tv KQED Newsroom PBS February 22, 2019 7:00pm-7:31pm PST
♪ -next, a "kqed newsroom" special on local business leaders changing the way we live, work, and connect with 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 neighborsn tear dowwalls online. also, an executive at reddit talks about the challenges facing the popular online forum. -what we have ied 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 or consumers by ditching brand labels. -millennials don't want to buy the products they grew up with, because ose brands were "trust marks," and they lost trust. -and a ceo's mission to make the food industry more green. -it's very personal, and it's very high-impact. we need to do somethinabout ou. -hello. i'm thuy vu. a welcome pecial edition of "kqed newsroom."
on this program, we're re-visiting interviewsfr our archives with game-changing business leaders who are using the web to create and strengthen communities or pioneering new alternatives to staplesur inridge and pantry. we also ask them about the difficulties silicon valley has had with diversity, especially in key leadership positions.r rst conversation is with prakash janakiraman, the co-founder and chief architect of nextdoor. the wsn francisco company aleighbors to create private networks online to share resources and information about their communities. acmording to the company, than 180,000 neighborhoods from the us to europe are using nextdoor to share hyperlocal content. and we want to disclose th kqed is a media partner of nextdoor, using its servoue to deliver content tobay 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 oand mainstream.ks becos
facebook for your friends.tw ter to connect with people with whom you shared interests. and of course linkedin for your professional network. but we found it sort of strange that there was not a network where you could connect with the people right outside your front door -- your neighbors, the people that were most important to you in your local community -- and so we set out to build a resource that connected neighbors to the information t that was most relevathem, and that's now nextdoor came about. -so, what are some of the most interesting interactions u've seen among neighbors on nextdoor? because, you know, i've used it. u've seen among neighbors i've used it to ask for moving boxes when i was moving, and then gave it back to other people when i wasn't. i posted about them.ce and there arainly 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 day-to-day kinds of recommendations that neighbors exchange with one another for babysitters, plumbers, auto mechanics. but we've also seen more critical use cases, especially around disasters. for example, in hurricane harvey or the napa wildfireshe orentura county wildfires,
we've seen neighbors bandintogether when the public infrastructure is under a lot of strain, especially 911 or first responders. and in the case of the liver donor, we did see that a neighbor put out a messe saying, "hey, one of our neighbors is in the hospital and looking 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. -yh. but, you know, there are lots of other entities that offer similar services, right? you could do facebook groups. there are homegrowms.function why should people use nextdoor? what sets you apart? -so, i think there are two things that really set us apart. the first is, when you look at nworks like facebook or twitter or some of these other social networks, these are largely platforms for lf-expression. they're a place for you to share photos, status updates, and really reveal a little bit more about yourself. nextdoor is purely utility-driven. people are coming to nextdoo to use their neighbo as a resource to help them solve problems. and the second thing that e
about nextdoor is, everyone that you're interacng with is a verified member of the neighborhood community. each neighborhood is a geographically-bounded entity on nextdoor. -how do you verify that they actually live there? -we have a number of different ways tt we verify. we can do mobile-phone verification. we can do verification via postcard, through the mailo wherredeem an invitation token that proves that you actually had to gto your mailbox and take it out. we have a number of different verification mechanisms.an once people are verified, that increases the level of truster that they're iting with people who are actually in their neighborhood, and facilitates a wide variety on these other platforms.f n -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 arkeighborhood social netecessary? why can't neighbors just go out and say, "hey. hi. i'm your neighbor. let's chat face-to-face. -yinh, i think we are comba trend that has been happening in the united states especially over the past 50 years of a decline in community. in fact, one of the inweiring statistics thaaw
when we started the company was that 29% of americans claim to know very few of their neighbors, and 28% of americans claim to know not a single nghbor by name. so you're talking about over half the population with very weak ties into t. and so, as strange as it may seem in our kind of modern, technological world, to use an app to facilitate these-person s in the community, it actually is happening. we feel like our job is best performed when an online interaction on nextdoor leads to an offline interaction. for example, your box story.wh you needed boxes, ultimately, you had to 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 ofiling. residents were posting urgent alerts, for example, about people of color in their neighborhoods. -yeah. -what have you done to address this? -yeah, firoc, we were definitely d to see
our platform being used in this way.ci and esly as a bay area native, hearing about communities in oakland, where we first became aware of this happeng, was a real shock to the system. but we worked totither with these commu to re-design our product in a way that i think is almost unprecedented in thnology, where we changed the product. -how did you re-design? -so, a few things that were really important to us were, number one, to make people aware of the fact that they were using descriptive text without the context around what actually was suspicious about the activity. so we introduced friction into the posting processe to force peo be more specific about the circumstances under which they werposting, not to be purely describing people on the characteristics of their raceme without dditional context as to what was suspicious. 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 neighborhood
text that accompanies it.owe -so, then, what kinds of posts -- how do you regulate something like this? that other peoplet find offensive,postsma maybe concerning gender or religion. newhere do you draw the -well, we expect, through our community guidelines, that neighborhood leadsaree for sort of mandating the social decorum of the communiti in which we land this product.nd so, undersg that we are in 180,000 different neighborhoods across the country, the product takes on a lot of the identity of the communities in which you land it. and so tre are, in some cases, local, specific issues that need to be discussed, but need to be donn with civil discoursend. and so our community guidelines, our neighborhood leads, but nand then we have wia support team back at hq that helps when those neighborhood leads feel like they're a little bit beyonde heir capability to hanings. but we try and self-moderate. -and, in 10 seconds, are you making any money yet? -we are starting to earn revenue through sponsored posts,
native advertising in the feed and in our e-mails, and now with realtors, as well. -nextdoor co-founder prakash janaraman. thank you so much. -thank you. -turning now from connecting neighborhoods to bringing together millions of people online. imagine a free website where you n find moon pretty much0 any topic imaginable. welcome to reddit. since its launch in 2005, reddit has become the fourthul most p website in the us. each month, hundreds of millions ofisitors comment on and post links to various topics, known as subreddits.t th that growth comes challenges. like facebook, twitter, and other social media, reddit is grapplreg with how to protect fe speeche while fighting hspeech and online bullying. here now to talk about all of this is the general counsel and vice pissident of reddit, mel tidwell. melissa, nice to have you here. -thanks for having me. -so, reddit is one of the most popular websites, not only in the us, but in the world. yet it doesn't have the same name recognition as,
they can enforce at scale. we have the anti-evil engineering team. -that's what they're called? anti-evil engineering team? -our current name. and so they help us build the tools.k -do you thinthat social-media sites have an obligationco to curb hatefuent, including conspiracy theories? -you know, it's a great question. i think for us, as a company, what we are focused on is ensuring that the convsation is healthy. i think we're at a time where it's important ,to have hard conversatio and it's important that, as a platform, we recognize th and facilitate it. it's not okay to allow a small number of voices to short of over-shout what's happening, md that's a hard thing age. 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 otherou and yelling the players, or is it people talking about what was awful about them not making it, and what they should do about it.
we are trying to encourage those types of behaviors, and weerry and do that in dit ways. sometimes that's with our community management team,e to reach out to derators that in to say,s. "hey, your conversation has gone off the rails. get your urs back on track. focus on what the topic of your community is." r else what? -or else we'll take action. -and how do reddit users differ from users of facebook, twter, or other social media? -i would say, one of the big lessons for me was the importance of thinking about the reddit community. come from google to reddit, weo posts on a very consistent basis where we engage with our users. and they're very honest. they give really -- we're almostike politicians. they give us real-time feedback on what they think we're doing right and what they think they giwe're doing wrong.edback -and they're anonymous, too. -they're pseudo-anonymous, so it's just a user name and password that's required to create an account and take action. -so, on the onodhand, that could be because if you were talking about sensitive topics, like maybe an eating disorder or sothing, you don't want your identity know. but does staying anonymous also make it easiereo
to bully s, or trolling? -you know, perhaps it does. 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 to what you're saying, right? and i think part of the beauty --we ave a community called ask a trump supporter, which is, i think, a great community of people who are saying, "listen, i don't agree with everything he says, but i'm here to be a rational voice as to, from a policy perspective, what's actually happening." -what about fake accounts? facebook has come under fire for allowing fake accounts to influence elections or to fanpolitical . are fake accounts a problem for you as well, and what do you do about it? -that's a great question. for us as a company, we have voting on our platform, upting and downvoting. one of our rules is that there is not allowed to be vote manipulation. so, from our very early days, we have focused on the integrity of the vote.ns and that mfor us, looking whether the users are bots or actual real users, ensuring that we're fighting spam and dealing with those issues. at the same time, there are good bots.
there are communities who have created bots that will warn yout he beginning of posting, the rules of the community. so politics, as a community, will say, "we require civil discussion." that is an automated bot, something that reminds the users.rt so i think it's imt for us that ito rememberted bot, that there are good bots and things that can be helpful to users, and there are bad bots.'s -lalk about silicon valley's diversity gap, as well. prior to reddit, you spent eight years as an attorney at google. so you've be t able to sort of breough the ranks. but you're a rarity. -mm-hmm. -studies show, government figures show that, in tech companies, the exe.tive level is 84% whi it's nearly 70% n. what can you do to changnthat and move more wo and people of color into positions of tech leadership? -it's definitely a problem in tech, and i think tech is starting to realize that. a black female executive, one of the very few,
o i think a coupthings are really important.or a black female executive, number one, it's int that you have the conversation at the executive level. so, i started at the company. steve huffman, who's our ceo, came probably a month or two after i did. and we've std a very open and hoonversation about diversity and the importance of it. -what do you do about it? ge -you have to acknowlthe is, and you take steps to address it. i think, for us, as an exutive team, our executive team reflects diversity, and therefore our reports as a minority executive,'s, i then have three out of four women whare my leads. it's not shocking is much more intuitive,of m because i'm looking for different things. i am looking for different perspectives. and as to how other teams that can sort of think differently. you can't just search on linkedin. you can't just look for, "i need someone who has exactly done this at this pe of company." you have to think outside the box and do it in different ways.
and so i think it's a problem that's never-ending, and something that you just have to continually work at.ne tep at a time. melissa tidwell, general counsel at reddit. thank you for being with us. -thank you. -moving on now from the y y we connect to the 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 aneroad range of everydassities, from food to beauty products to office supplies, w eachh a price tag of $3. kqed's marisa lagos sat down with the ceo of braness, tina sharkey. -tina, thanks for coming in. -thank you so much for having me. -so, everything at brandless is $3, which is very low. tell me what kind of products we're talkg about. the whole idea of brandless was to creata simple, organized, edited assortment of the things th you love, from chips to crackers to cookies, you me it.
and then in the essentials -- so, organic spices or organic all-purpose flours and baking mixes --reas wel- so fluoride-free toothpaste, essential-oil mouthwash. -was there a particular moment that sort of drove you to create this brand? you've been in business for a whileot that sort of drove you and done a lot or things? that are pretty different from this. -yeah. i would say what's ieresting is, it all started with my co-founder. ido leffler and i decided that we actually wanted erto change the world toge in . and we were both doing lots of other things at the time, but we said, "let's carve out the timect and the space tolly figure out what's broken and what we want to fix." i came from building communities. i came from building commerce and mediaon and directmer experiences, all digital. and he came from creating consumer packaged-goods products. so i said, "what if we were to, like, fuse it and build a community that's based on something that's bigger than anything that we sell?" -- this whole idea that we cou democratize access
to better things at fair prices for everyone. soe set off to do that. -so, how are millennial customers diffent from, maybe, their parents? -it's so interesting abor, the millennial consu because think of them as first time head-of-household, right? either they're setting up their college dorm roomor hey are setting up their first apartment or they're having babies.s millennial me gonna be the largest segment of moms. they probably already are., millennial me gonna be the largest segment of moms. and if they're nthey will b. 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, bbranding is so ingrained in us. -i know, but it's changing. because today, the brands of yesterday don't represent the value system. and i think it's like 67% of americans say -- not just milleials -- they want to shop from a company that represents their values. so anillennials don't want to buy the productsre theyup with because those brands were "trust marks," and they lost trust. so people are turning over their taste.
it's millennials, but it's also perennials - people who are changing their habits, changing their coumption patterns, and changing the brands that they want to reach for. -you call yourself a social capitalist. i mean, how important is it, from a business perspective, too, to have a company that's sort of aimed at the broader good? i know you guys give money to programs our feeding folks whenuy something. -yeah, so, we partner with feeding america. there's 41 million people in this country that go hungry every day, and feeding america is the largest hunger-relief organization in this country, with the broadest network of fd banks. when you check out at brandless, we will purchase a meal through feeding america in your honor, because we believe that the doing in life is what matters, anngwe don't wait for giuesday. every time you can do a tangible act of kindness is just kind of how brandless rolls. so our communityis alws and, in fact, as we celebrated our first anniversary, we'd already given awayoves -wow. so you have a lot of experience
as an entrepreneur, an executive. you co-founded ivillage which, at the time, cowas the largest online unity for women. you were president of babycenter. how's the business landscape changed as a woman in tech, and business broadly? -you know, it's funny, but i never really identified asof woman or a man in termsho . i'm tina. and i ve my experience. i have my passions. i'm also aom. i'm also a friend. i'm also a sister. i'm lots of things. but when i show up at work, i'm a leader who's there to build an extraordinary business, an"ii don't think of it as s a female-run business." it's a business that fully expresses the commitme and passion of the people that come to work for us and the movement that we're building. d so i think the landscape has changed in that having that real seat at the table is something that's very, very important, because i represent not only my own business experience, but also my personal experience.
and 89% of the purchasing in this country is done by women, so the idea that women wouldn't have a seat at the table for any consumer business -- let alone any business to begin with -- is kind of crazy. but i don't think about it as" i think "i'm tina, and this is my experience." than my skills, my passion,eledr and what i'm building and executing. o, 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 about color or race or ethnicity. it might be aboustyle. it might be about approach. and so not everybody has the same approach things. -right. -but as an entrepreneur, part of your job is to sort of convene a diverse set of voices, 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 e long game. -fabulous. well, tina sharkey, thank you so much for coming i -thank you for having me. -our next ceo created method, 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. his new company is ripple foods, located in emeryville. its flagship product is a non-dairy milk made from peas. that's right, peas. all right, so, milk made from peas. why peas? -yeah, that's right. pea milk, eh? -yeah. -you know, peas are high in protein. and the tuation right now is, most alternatives to dairy products are actually pretty bad dairy alternatives. they don't have any proty n in them, or have vttle, and most people agree that they're kind of thin and watery. so by making milk out of peas, ng were able to make sometrean but really creamy and delicious
the end of the day, that's the way we're gonna get more people to eat healthier, more nutritious, and more susinable 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 traini come into it? -yeah, partially.k i thbig part of this story, also, is my co-founder, neil renninger, who's a phd biochemist. he's the real scientist between the two of us. and he created a way to get totally pure protein out of any plant source.at and heand when you do o get totalit's tasteless. many people don't know that proteins have no flavor.l so if you get pure protein from plants, you can make foods out of it that are really delicious. and then they are foods that a lot more people will buy and enjoy. -and i think you were alhy inspired by this philos of trying to cut down on the carbon footprint, right? -mm-hmm. -tell us about that. -yeah. i mean, you mentionedve that i do background as a climate scientist. that was a long time ago. and that wra a big part of the inson for my first business, method, trying to use a business
to create social and environmental impact. now, fortunateor, that's become a muchmainstream idea now. food is even more personal, and has even more impacts on our environment and on our health, of course, th cleaning products, and so that was why i really wanted to get into food, because it's very personal, and it's very high-impact. we need to do something about our broken food system, and we need do it through foods that are really delicious that people enjoy. -and that don't tpuse a lot of carbon , for example, because dairy products and meat products contribute to the carbon footprint. -yeah, exactly. so, dairy is about a quarter of our food carbon footprint, oand food's about 30% human carbon footprint. that means dairy is about 8% of humanity's carbon footprint. and most of the alternatives are not much better. you know, almond milk, for example,er and motakes a lot of watives are not m-mm-hmm.er. and i know that this was also the inspiration behind your method cleaning products, your prior company, you started it with your college buddy,
eric ryan, and in the beginning, you were actually making fferent method formulas yo. -that is correct. yeah, it was sort of the most ironic place you could think of a cleaning-products company being born, which is the bachelor pad of five guys in their mid-20s. so -a probably nolean bachelor pad. ast was exactly as clean ou would think it would be. and, yeah, we made the product there. actually used beer pitchersan oand things like that initially, and we were selling it door-to-door to grocery stores. but now method is actually the largest green cleaning company in the world. -is it really? -mm-hmm. -that's a great silicon valley story, isn't it? but silicon valleys com. -mm-hmm. it makes amazing products that billions of people use around the world. but therths also been criticism silicon valley companies don't do enough to be good corporate citizens. s for example, on thike housing. what are your thoughts on that? -well, i think in today's environment, you have to haa civic y that has a sense of purpose as a company.
it's no longer appropriate for a company to just sit on the sidelines. now, what i don't mean is that a company has to be overtly political. there is a difference between politics and policy. and i think thatnsusinesses have a resility to put forward ideasth about ho can make the world a better place, whether that be environmental or whether that be social, whatever the issue may be. tand i think that it's -- -do you thin esilicon valley has dough on that front? -well, clearly there are some places where silic valley has some ways to go. i mean, it's the hotbed of innovation. there's a spirit that's absolutely fantastic. and i think we've seen some examples where we need to do better as an overall business community in this area. so i think that's where examining the impacts and environmentallys is really critical,ly and then being conscious and deliberate about tryinger to do ben those areas. -yeah.
and just real quickly, since we're the topic of corporate social responsibility, this week we saw a number of companies step forward on the g-control debate, united and delta cutting their discounts for nra members, for example,g almart and dick's sportods changing their gun-sales policies. how do you feel about companies taking stands on controveral issues? -yeah, i think it's important for companies to have a point of view, and to share that pot of view. and as i said, it can be a little bit of a tricky line when it starts to toe the line into politics, and the sausage-making of politics. but i don't think it's appropriate anymore to not be involved. i think that trust in societal institutions, us trust iness is really at an all-time low, and we need to rebuild that by saying, "hey, this is what we stand for. this is what we think is right and wrong." and live that. -okay. adam lowry, co-founderd ceo . thanks for being here. -yeah. thanks for having me. -and that will do it for us. for more of our coverage, go to kqed.org/newsroom.uy
robert: the mueller report looms at home as the president looks abroad. i'mobert costa. welcome toon "wash week." the special counsel's report into russian electn interfeernls could be completed in week, according to multiple report, but the justice department isn't confirming anything, but what will be released to the public? president trump: that will be totally up to the new attorney general. robert: and as mr. trump's former attorney trepareso testify before congress, a sweeping story raises questions about the president's conduct. plus, president looks to cut a deal with north korean leader kim jong un and seeks a win. president trump: prime minr