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Kara Swisher: A Media Maverick's Insights into the Business-Tech Landscape

 Technology journalist, author, and business owner Kara Swisher
 Technology journalist, author, and business owner Kara Swisher



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Kara's book: 
Burn Book: A Tech Love Story

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Gene Marks (00:00 to 00:04)

You know, the average age of the U.S. small-business owner is 55 years old, according to the SBA.


Kara Swisher (00:04 to 00:05)



Gene Marks (00:05 to 00:23)

So, you know, there are people and, and we all grew up because I'm that age range, as well. We all grew up not trusting technology. So, it is a little scary. And there are a lot of hesitation about, you know, moving into even an AI world where things are being done automatically. What are your thoughts on security and AI taking over the world, threatening a business?


Kara Swisher (00:23 to 00:58)

I think you're. That's, that ship has failed a long time ago. I don't know what to sell you, but years ago, Scott McNeely, who I don't love these days. He's gotten - a lot of these tech people have sort of lost the narrative in many ways - but technology is a tool, and you have to use it. It's like saying, I'm not so sure about these light bulbs. I'm not sure if I like light on all the time. You know, I just. It's really not a choice. It's not a choice. It's oxygen. It's the oxygen we breathe. You have to understand it for work. You can resist it, but you'll be left behind.


Announcer (01:01 to 01:23)

Welcome to Paychex THRIVE, a Business Podcast, where you'll hear timely insights to help you navigate marketplace dynamics and propel your business forward. Here's your host, Gene Marks. Hey, everybody, it's Gene Marks. And welcome back to another episode of the Paychex THRIVE podcast. Thank you so much for joining me.


Gene Marks (01:24 to 01:44)

Very, very excited to have somebody I've been a longtime fan of and a follower of; Kara swisher, who is a well-known journalist and media personality. First of all, Kara, thanks so much for joining me. And just if you can just take anywhere from 30 seconds to an hour and give us a little bit of a bio of yourself just so our audience really gets to know you. Go ahead.


Kara Swisher (01:44 to 02:16)

I'm just a journalist. I've been working, covering tech since the early 1990s and worked at the Washington Post, worked at the Wall Street Journal, worked at The New York Times. And I also started a couple of media companies, one of which I did at the Wall Street Journal, the other I sold to Vox Media, which also owns the New York Magazine. And I've also done podcasts for about 10 years and events for 20 years. Pretty well-known tech conferences, I think they were the most well-known, I guess. One was called All things D, one was called Code. And then I have had several podcasts, including Pivot, which is now with New York Magazine, although it's been other places. And then I also do On, with Kara Swisher. And also I did Sway for The New York Times and Recode Decode again for Vox Media before that.


Gene Marks (02:39 to 02:41)

And just to make sure these are all technology focused, correct?


Kara Swisher (02:42 to 03:03)

No, On is very wide ranging now. I do, and so is Sway. I do politics. Power is what I look at, really, but I cover the range of things we do know. I just interviewed Paul Giamatti, who's in The Holdovers. We do well-known people and lots of politicians. Lots and lots of politicians, but also tech and business people.


Gene Marks (03:03 to 03:29)

Great. Okay. That's fine. So, you're here for two reasons. First of all, I want to give a chance to promote your book, which I read and loved. It's called Burn Book: A Tech Love Story. And then after I've given you the chance to promote your book, which I think that all of our audience should be reading, I want to get your insights on a bunch of technology issues that are impacting this audience, which are mostly small- and midsized-business owners. Let's talk about the book first, okay? Tell us why you wrote it and what it's about.


Kara Swisher (03:29 to 04:21)

Well, I was sort of the premier technology reporter for Silicon Valley, especially the internet age. That's what I really covered, and I was there at the dawn of it. And so it's essentially my memoir of the time and what these people were like before they were the people they are now, which are the world's richest people. They were not that when I met them. Some of them were among not the world's poorest people, but they didn't have a lot of money, and how they built their businesses and my thoughts on them over those years and how they've changed, some of them for the better, some of them for the very worse.


And it's also sort of a primer for those who don't understand how the internet grew. And since I covered it, it's a really good history of the Internet, if you're only interested in that, and I come to some conclusions about where it's going. Obviously, I've been really disappointed by the negative impact that tech has had and the lack of any kind of regulation on an industry that runs our world, essentially.



Gene Marks (04:22 to 04:49)

Yeah, we're going to talk a little bit about that. But before we even do that, while we stay on the book, what surprised you the most about your book is you really did have a lot of feedback. You did talk to a lot of people. You have managed over the years to at one point, on one hand roast some of the biggest and most well-known tech executives in the world and yet somehow maintain a relationship with them. I'm curious how you managed to do that.


Kara Swisher (04:49 to 05:57)

Well, not everybody, but I think most smart people like feedback. As they get richer and more powerful, I think a lot of people around them lie to them almost continually for whatever advantage. They're enablers. That's a fancy word for it. But suck-ups is how most people call them.


And everybody who has an office knows about those people, and I think that I do not get paid by them. And so I have my unvarnished opinions, and I think they, one is I talk to everybody, and so I know more than they do sometimes about all of them. And so Mark Zuckerberg might be interested in Elon Musk might be interested in Tim Cook, and I know them all, and they don't know them all. And that's one thing I have a lot of knowledge. And after covering it for years, a lot of what I've said was going to happen happens.


And so they tend to respect my insights. So, the smart ones never have a problem with being roasted. I don't think the word roasted is the right word, but I just tell them the truth, and I think you're either a truth teller and people think that's an asset or you're a truth teller, and people think it's negative because they have wounded egos and deep insecurities going back to childhood.


Gene Marks (05:57 to 06:05)

Right. Do you still find it challenging to find the time with some of these people to talk and get around the walls of their PR media?


Kara Swisher (06:05 to 07:23)

I text a lot. I have a lot of text relationships with a lot of them, which is kind of funny. When something happens at not going to say which company, I'll go, oh, my God, you're kidding me. And they want to say, you know what I mean? And it's off the record sometimes. Sometimes they say, I want to write about it.


I want to talk about it. And so, I think, I'm not a working reporter like I was before, and so I've become much more of an analyst and a columnist. So, I have an ability to say what I think a little bit more. I always did. When I was a straight, no. You know, this is what happened yesterday essentially, and we had scoops and things. But since I sort of know, a lot of people are like, I can't believe you told them that during the Trump thing.


The beginning, it opens on me going, I can't believe you're friggin’ doing this and not saying anything about immigration. I covered immigration for years, and they go, to a meeting with someone who said he's going to close the borders. And I was like, hey, it's a big deal for tech. And I think that was normal for me to do at that point. I just told them, and then I wrote about it. But anything I told them, I wrote about. So, it wasn't like I was hiding it. I would have said it to them in public and private and both places. And so, I have a point of view, and I think that's okay as long as you do it based on reported analysis and experience of watching a sector for so long.


Gene Marks (07:24 to 07:47)

You started this conversation by just introducing yourself as a journalist. And you're a journalist, but you're also a business owner. And it's interesting that, but you put journalists first. I'm curious what your take has been on running businesses. I mean, you weren't trained in business. Yeah, but I mean, how did you learn to do that? Did you receive any type of education? Was it just ...


Kara Swisher (07:48 to 09:37)

No, I didn't go to business school. I went to one course at Wharton in accounting because I wanted to learn what the tricks AOL was up to, so I needed to understand how they did things. It was a good learning experience. No, I think people are just natural. Business is a craft as far as I'm concerned. In many cases, I don't think you can study things like you study anything. But some people are intuitively good at it. And I think it's really a detriment for reporters not to understand business if they're covering business, right? You want to tell people how to run a business, and never having run one, I don't find that very attractive as a trait.


And so, when they say something about regulation, I know a little bit about, I know what it's like to be a small-business owner. When they say something about antitrust around, you can only advertise on Google and Facebook. I know that. I get it. I don't have a lot of choices either.


And so, as a business owner, you really have some insight. Same thing when you write about management or remote work or anything else. I have experience in that, that I had employees. You know, what incentivizes people? What kind of business do you want to run? What kind of tone do you want to set with employees? What kind of manager, what kind of employee do you want to be? That kind of thing.


The other part that I think was powerful is it's called reportrepreneur, but I hate that word, and there's a lot of them now. I was one of the first, I think. But I just feel like if you make money at what you're doing, I don't have to listen to the suits. If I make money, I can do whatever I damn well please, and that gives me a lot of power, and I think a lot of reporters have found themselves at the sharp end of the stick these days because of costs. And I'm not ever at the sharp end of a stick. I'm poking the stick, but I'm not at the short end of it ever.


Gene Marks (09:38 to 09:46)

Have you been pretty much freelance and independent for the past ten or 15 years? I mean, are you an employee anywhere right now? Are you independent?


Kara Swisher (09:46 to 10:20)

Well, it's a mix, you know what I mean? I'm a big shareholder of Vox Media, so I consider them my company. And I'm not sure if I'm an employee anymore. I have a contract. I guess I'm not a contractor, but I guess I am a contractor. I like to contract. I've been doing that. I was an employee at the Washington Post. I was an employee at the Wall Street Journal until I wasn't. And when I did my first entrepreneurial skunk works inside of the company, I became a contractor because I just felt it was better for me and for the business that we were separate from their P&L and stuff.


Gene Marks (10:20 to 10:20)



Kara Swisher (10:20 to 11:05)

Because we always made money. So, it wasn't like I was begging them for cash or anything like that. I just don't like to be at people's, have them have leverage over me that's pointless. I don't mind normal. If everyone's intentions are the same, if everybody's interests are aligned, I'm good. If there's a misalignment of power or incentives, it's always a situation. I got you. You know that, right? And so, I just feel like if I make the money and they help me, great. If they're not helping me, see you later, that kind of thing, or if I'm not helping them, see you later. I'm good with that. And so, for the times I was a contractor, I had a contract. I like to have contracts. They're kind of clear. They're kind of nice and clear.


Gene Marks (11:05 to 11:11)

Yeah. Well, obviously they give you freedom and flexibility, and if you're going to be as opinionated as you are, the last thing you want is some boss calling you into their office.


Kara Swisher (11:11 to 11:50)

I've never had that happen, actually, I've honestly never had that happen because I haven't been inaccurate. I also make sure I'm not inaccurate, right? They have no cause to essentially, and even when I was an employee, I have to give credit to Don Graham. I covered retail and I wrote some pretty tough stories on the decline of local retailers and sort of predicted they were finished because of Walmart and everything else. It wasn't an insinuation. I was like, look at these trends, look at these numbers. And Don Graham never said a word. And they were his biggest advertisers. I was like knocking the struts out of his business on a daily basis and I was doing the news. That's what was happening.


Gene Marks (11:53 to 12:42)

You had mentioned again just a few minutes ago about different things that you have covered and the tech executives you covered and monopolies you've mentioned. So, I do want to get into AI, but I got to ask you this question first, though, Kara. So, I just wrote a piece for the Guardian just last week where I shared a story in my; I have a 10-person business and we sell CRM software like Salesforce and dynamics and Zoho. Always looking for your leads and always looking for projects. So, I'm active on Twitter and I'm like, you know what, why don't I dip my toe in the water in Twitter and do a little promoted tweet? And I wrote about this. I paid $50 for a tweet. I wrote a little ebook on CRM. The tweet specifically was like, I had like links to my landing page. So, people download this ebook.


Kara Swisher (12:42 to 12:44)

I know how this story ends, but go ahead, right?


Gene Marks (12:44 to 13:21)

So, wrote it out, did it, posted the tweets, paid the $50, spent the $50. Twitter told me I got, I don't know, 8 billion impressions or whatever it was, which was irrelevant to me because I'm looking for leads. To me, that's like a non-number. The number that was interesting was clicks on my link. So, as you can imagine, for $50, I got close to 400 clicks on that link to my landing page. You know how this ends because you know how many actual views wound up on my landing page? Less than 10. And this is a specific landing page for that campaign. And I think to myself, like, what the heck is going on with Twitter? And it's not just Twitter, it sucks.


Gene Marks (13:21 to 13:23)

Now, I'm a small ...


Kara Swisher (13:23 to 13:27)

Some people do have, they do convert. There's some places that do convert. Twitter just does not.


Gene Marks (13:31 to 13:57)

Wait, one other question I just have to also ask you on that same topic, on that same vein, it's Twitter and it's Facebook and it's Google and you pay them money and they are telling you the clicks that you're getting. It's like you're asking the wolf to tell you, give you a correct of the number of pins in the hen house. How as a business owner, do we even trust that at all? Anyway ... we don't, right? Tell me more, what are your thoughts on.


Kara Swisher (13:57 to 15:13)

I never thought, first of all, Twitter, X, whatever the hell you want to call it, it's a bot mart. You know what I mean? It's just not true. And it never was good, by the way, when I was running a site, I was always interested in traffic, obviously. It's very similar thing. I wanted them to convert to readers. And I'll tell you what worked. People coming to the know, just organic coming. The other thing was search was okay. Google searches, people are looking for me, they can find me. That's the kind of thing Facebook, Instagram sometimes, if it was the right message, for sure, right?


But it had to be very planned and a lot of work. And if you're a certain business, if you're selling a fancy khaki or a shirt that doesn't have cuffs or whatever the hell on those kind of things, that could work. Interesting, interesting. But otherwise it doesn't work. It's such a lie. It's such a giant friggin' lie. And so I just know Twitter was always at the bottom of the barrel. LinkedIn worked pretty well, actually, because those are people interested in your business, right? So you just have to figure out what works for you and what doesn't in terms of advertising, and that's the only way to go. I've always found organic is honestly, or search it is.


Gene Marks (15:14 to 15:20)

The organic part of it is because it's more relationship connection. People are actually looking for you, so they will connect that way.


Kara Swisher (15:20 to 15:22)

Twitter is better. Amazon is better.


Gene Marks (15:22 to 15:23)

Amazon is ...


Kara Swisher (15:23 to 15:40)

And by the way, you mentioned we're full of AI generated books by Kara Swisher. Just so you know, they're all AI versions of me writing books. One was called "Kara the Giant Killer, My Life in Tech". It was interesting. I didn't write it.


Gene Marks (15:40 to 15:52)

You are right about LinkedIn as a B2B. We sell B2B. And it is a decent place to go on there. But the other explanation I was getting, I mean, I asked a few social media experts, experts and, well, there's a lot of bots that are going on on Twitter.


Kara Swisher (15:52 to 15:54)

A lot. It is bots.


Gene Marks (15:54 to 15:58)

And again, I get back saying like, well, why am I paying for that? That's not my problem.



Kara Swisher (15:58 to 16:15)

That is the correct answer. Don't pay for it. Don't do business there. I would think it's a waste of your time unless you're selling marijuana. It's cheap. It's cheap. I guess it's cheap. And if you can get by the weird honey people and the weed. Weed. And now porn. I'm getting a lot of porn on there.


Gene Marks (16:15 to 16:15)



Kara Swisher (16:16 to 16:20)

I would stay away from that platform at all costs. And advertiser ...


Gene Marks (16:20 to 16:25)

The takeaways. That's very helpful for audience.


Kara Swisher (16:25 to 16:27)

LinkedIn, boring, but it works.


Gene Marks (16:27 to 16:35)

LinkedIn is not bad, but LinkedIn also, I think you also have to be careful about the advertising. I mean, I don't know how many promoted posts I look at at LinkedIn. I talk to people that post and reply to me.


Kara Swisher (16:35 to 16:49)

And we have to be good in your advertising. Look, just be interesting to people, the stuff, see what works for you, and then copy that. That's how I look at them. I see something, I'm like, why did I look at this for as long as I did and then try to copy that?


Gene Marks (16:49 to 16:55)

Okay, let's keep talking. I have minimal time with you, and I apologize because I'm like, I hope.


Kara Swisher (16:55 to 16:56)

I fixed your problem.


Gene Marks (16:56 to 17:00)

You did. It was a big help. It makes me feel ...


Kara Swisher (17:00 to 17:04)

Don't question yourself when you have this instinct that it doesn't work. It's not you.


Gene Marks (17:04)

Thank you.


Kara Swisher (17:05 to 17:06)

It's not you. It's them. Okay.


Gene Marks (17:07 to 18:31)

I appreciate that. I literally feel like I went to college and I've been doing this for a number of years, and I'm missing something. Apparently, I'm not. Okay, let's talk about AI. So, here's more questions for you on AI. There's a lot of different topics we can talk about, but I wrote about this, as well. I wrote a piece in Forbes about Microsoft. Microsoft introduced their Copilot Pro. That is a big AI application.


For those of you guys watching and listening primarily for office is where it's using, and it promises to do a whole bunch of things that will help you write emails and do PowerPoints and analyze spreadsheets and all that kind of stuff. What I'm finding from my clients is that it doesn't really do any of that stuff yet, or if it does, it does it pretty badly. And in fact, even in the Forbes article that I shared, there was like a tech geek, like a consultant guy, but he was like a Microsoft fan or whatever, the poor guy, he was trying desperately to get Copilot Pro to work with a big Excel spreadsheet that he had to analyze it, and he started out with like a million rows, and he eventually had to go down to like 500 for it to even generate any results. And even after that, it wasn't that good. It's just not ready for primetime.


And believe me, Google with Gemini and Duet are seeing challenges. When you talk to a small business owner, Kara, what are you telling them about AI in 2024? Ignore it.


Kara Swisher (18:31 to 19:34)

No, in this case, useful eventually. It's like early internet. I wouldn't tell. A lot of people are like, this email doesn't work, right? Or this internet is so slow and kluge and I can't find anything. The links don't work. Look, it's the early stages of this stuff. If you don't understand it from the get-go, you're going to have a problem. These will be better.


I just was looking at some early AGI video from last year and the improvement they just did, the Will Smith eating spaghetti test, it looked terrible last year. It looks really good this year. It'll improve over time, just like the internet did in terms of capability, in terms of efficacy, in terms of everything. And so, if you're not understanding it or working with it as it moves along.


Now, the problem with tech is that, and I think Walt Mossberg, who is my mentor, really put this out, is technology is too hard to use, and it's not your fault. You are a guinea pig to these people, right? So, they would never release a car like this. Sometimes the wheel falls off or, hey …


Gene Marks (19:34 to 19:36)

They don't build airplanes.


Kara Swisher (19:36 to 20:51)

One of these slices of meat is tainted. But it's okay, we're working on it. That kind of thing. Nobody would have been able to do this but tech people, because you're like fascinated by their betas, right? And they call it beta, whatever. No preview version. Preview version or whatever they want to call it. Eventually the end of my book talks about that. Eventually. I had them just write the end of the book very briefly. I don't want to do that stupid stunt, but I did it for a point, which is that it will get better as I get worse, right?


And so, you cannot ignore it, and it could relieve you from ridiculous rote tasks like in journalism, headline writing. It'll get better and then you will pick from the two of the 300 they generate in 5 seconds. That will work. So, if you're in any business, find whatever application works best. I think it does well on summarizing. I think it takes a lot of information and summarizes it rather well. I think if you're doing historical research, you got to watch it just like you have to watch anything on the internet. And so it depends on what you're doing, but there is something you will find that it will make. It will relieve you of time-consuming, rote work.


Gene Marks (20:51 to 21:24)

So, let me ask you as a mentor here, to me, when I'm talking to my clients, I am telling them, yeah, just what you said earlier. This is almost like 2007 in the iPhone. We're all just getting started with this stuff. But I do tell them, whatever applications you're using in your business, whether it's an ERP system from Epicore or Dynamics or Sage, or if you're using CRM system, this is the year that you need to lean into your vendors, right? I mean, a lot of the companies I'm dealing with, they're not developing. They're like landscapers and roofing companies. They're not developing ...


Kara Swisher (21:26 to 22:55)

The only thing is, they shouldn't get dependent on it. It's a tool, right? Think of it like a tool. It's not going to take over your business. But it's like saying, I like to bill by paper back before, who does that into it? I like to use a travel agent to get my airline tickets. Like what? Nobody does it now. It's still a glitchy process, no matter how you ... But it's certainly better than it was.


And it will be better, and it will be better because it will know you and it will start talking to you. And then when it starts really talking to you and becomes a real assistant, it gets interesting. It does. It gets scary, but it gets interesting. Like, you could see it going a number of different ways, but they will talk to each other, these assistants, too. There's a lot of stuff that you don't ... We do a lot of

It reminds me a little bit, like when you do retail, I had a really good interview with the guy who runs Walmart, and he even said, there's going to be a 10,000 square foot store where you go see things if you want to, physically, but then everything will be brought to you. And it doesn't make sense. Remember Circuit City, where you wandered around that racetrack that they trapped you in? Going to the supermarket is even kind of, you're going to get stuff and bring it back.


Why? Why precisely do you have to do it that way? And so there are more efficient ways to do it and it will evolve. It's already moving that way, and the pandemic accelerated it with commerce, but it certainly will be the same with business and you should lean into anything. And if it doesn't work, do it the same way. Come back to it.


Gene Marks (22:55 to 23:43)

Yeah, it's what we said. There's got to be ROI in it. And I really believe that the platform that all the software companies, platform providers, they're charging monthly fees, it's a cloud-based world, they need to justify those fees every year and they've got to be coming out with more and more and better tech for us to continue paying. Can't talk about AI though, of course, with a little bit about security and privacy and all that, because that gets brought up all the time by my clients.


I mean, the average age of the U.S. small-business owner is 55 years old, according to the SBA. And we all grew up because I'm that age range, as well. We all grew up not trusting technology. So, it is a little scary. And there are a lot of hesitation about moving into even an AI world where things are being done automatically. What are your thoughts on security and AI taking over the world, threatening a business?


Kara Swisher (23:43 to 25:06)

I think that ship has sailed a long time ago. I don't know what to sell you, but years ago, Scott McNeely, who I don't love these days. He's gotten - a lot of these tech people have sort of lost the narrative in many, you know, technology is a tool and you have to use it. It's like saying, I'm not so sure about these light bulbs. I'm not sure if I like light on all the time. It's really not a choice. It's not a choice. It's oxygen. It's the oxygen we breathe. You have to understand it for work. You can resist it, but you'll be left behind. And you may not mind being left behind. You can do it the old-fashioned way. If you feel like churning butter, churn butter, if that's the way you want it done. But I just don't feel like you can't not use it. I think what happens though, is people get caught up in trying everything.


You can wait and slowly move into it, but you can't ignore it. In many ways, it makes your life easier. Security, privacy, tech has been allowed glaring privacy violations that our government has not protected us from. And if there's anyone who's culpable here, is sure they're making shoddy security products for these things, but the government could have stepped in and liability should kick in for these kind of things because it's very pervasive.


Gene Marks (25:06 to 25:42)

Okay, next topic. Staying on that security topic, just a couple of weeks ago, they're all in the news was that 26 billion records, right, were hacked from LinkedIn and X and all these other tech firms. And Kara, the Paychex sensors are going to censor this out, I'm sure, but what the [expletive]. Again, these are our biggest security platforms. These are the ones that we look to. These people with unlimited resources to protect data doesn't give, how do you say to a small-business owner, oh, well, you need to improve your security and you need to pay an IT firm when you see stuff like that happen? What do you … should there …


Kara Swisher (25:42 to 26:56)

Our government should be stepping in here over and over again. It's a real. Oh, God, they've missed so much. Not just on security, but privacy. I'd recommend a very good book by Nicole Pearl Roth called "This is How They Tell Me the World Ends", and it'll explain to you what happened. There's a lot of really good material in this. It's actually interesting to read. But I think we have to pass a national data bill, a national privacy bill. Liability has to kick in for a lot of these companies.


I think the problem is that it is so pervasive. How do you influence the expression, why do you rob banks? It's because where the money is. Well, why do they steal this? That's because where the data is, and data is gold, and so you can do so much fraud. But we've had these issues before. It's on a quantum level of difficulty. We've had people rob banks. We've had people take money. We've had people cheat people. We've had kids cheat on tests. It's just a version of ... the problem is humanity really is the problem of the whole thing. But I'm sorry, ordinary people are the problem.


Gene Marks (26:56 to 26:59)

We can have this conversation 100 years from now, and it'll be different.


Kara Swisher (27:00 to 27:37)

Someone was feeling my brainwaves that I had sent to someone else. I think people will always take advantage. I do think these companies should be held to a higher standard, like banks or healthcare companies or this. But it's too good for the fraud people not to be here, right? The people who want to perpetrate crime and fraud. And so, you've got to really understand where your data is, where it's located, and how it's protected, and be very careful with it. And of course, there's going to be all kinds of services to help you, but the fact that you have to, it's like hiring your own police force, right? Which is essentially what it is.


Gene Marks (27:37 to 28:00)

Yeah. And even, like, whatever advances are coming up in scams, biometrics and obviously face recognition, which is great and certainly better than multifactor authentication, there's still the flaws there, as well. That technology can get around. In the few minutes that I have left with you, let me talk a little bit about augmented and virtual reality. Apple Vision Pro ...


Kara Swisher (28:00 to 28:04)

I have it right next to me.


Gene Marks (28:04 to 28:05)

I was going to ask if you have one.


Kara Swisher (28:05 to 28:06)

Sure do.


Gene Marks (28:08 to 28:26)

Two years ago, a digital picture of a bored ape was worth millions of dollars. So, again, running a business, there was a time where people were like, oh, my God, should I be buying real estate in the metaverse? Because I see people going there. Give us your thoughts on the metaverse. Augmented reality.


Kara Swisher (28:27 to 30:23)

I was never a fan of the Metaverse. When Mark did that, I thought, lord, yeah, sure it will. Yeah, see, we will have them. But I think I'm interested in, I don't know, every app. Like, if you had handed me an iPhone, you couldn't have predicted Uber, right? Back in 2007, you just couldn't have. You couldn't. Five years later, you couldn't … AirBnB all the things you do on there. Wordle. You couldn't have predicted wordle. Wordle is just a puzzle, right, that we used to do on paper before, and so you couldn't have predicted these things. But when you start to use, I think another thing you should start using, because I think augmented reality is really interesting. Eventually, these are big devices, whether it's the Vision Pro or the Meta Oculus.


It's not that bad, though, I'll tell you. I've had all of them on my head for years. They used to be helmets. Now they're glasses. I mean, they're goggles. Then they're going to be glasses. They'll be glasses. And I have the Google Glass here, too, by the way. I have it with me. It was directionally the right idea. There will be a heads-up display of which you will encounter the world, and there will be – even your airpods could become video, right? And it will say, kara, take a left here. Oh, you're late for your meeting. That kind of stuff. And it will visualize things in front of you. And there'll be screens everywhere. And what I like about the Vision Pro so far is screens everywhere that don't exist, right? That is pretty cool when you start using it.


Entertainment, photography. Entertainment is fantastic. It is. It just is. Work at home, working, you don't need a screen. And everyone's like, oh, it costs $3,500. I'm like, an Apple screen cost $3,500. In case you're interested, Apple AirPod Max cost $400. What are you doing here? You're like, you start to understand what you can use it for. And again, if you can afford it, and you think it might affect your business, especially in entertainment. I can see it happening. All kinds of things. Office stuff, if you're making ...


Gene Marks (30:23 to 30:36)

You've got these devices because you're covering and you're writing about it and you're talking about it, are you using them as a thing or do you still just basically sit in front of your laptop and write.


Kara Swisher (30:36 to 31:41)

I am not going to do that. I can see myself not doing it. And it reminded me of when I got the phone for the first time. I had a BlackBerry before that. And I had the BlackBerry before that. I just texting one, you see where. And I had a big phone and I was like, this will be smaller. I remember when I had it, people made fun of me. I had a suitcase phone and then I had the Gordon Gecko phone. And everyone's like, that's ridiculous. And I go, it's not going to look like this. It's going to be. And I would point to a pay phone, I said, that's going, that's going. I don't know how, but it's going to be tiny like in Star Trek, right?

So, I often look at sci-fi I'm like, if it was or you know that Tom Cruise movie, "Minority Report". Go look at that. That's what it's going to be like. It is. It really is. And it's trending in that direction. Same thing with EVs or anything else. Sure, they don't work quite right yet, but people suck at driving, right? So not today, but it's certainly in the 30 years everything has progressed. And one thing about technology is it progresses as we don't, as we slow down. And that's what you have to keep in mind.


Gene Marks (31:42 to 31:50)

Final question, then I'll let you go. We go back in time and you're a young twenty something with all the knowledge that you have right now and.


Kara Swisher (31:50 to 31:51)

What, that'd be great?


Gene Marks (31:51 to 31:58)

Yeah. And you've got your capital and you wanted to start up a tech business. I'm kind of curious what tech business would excite you?


Kara Swisher (31:58 to 32:00)

Climate Change Tech.


Gene Marks (32:00 to 32:02)

That's cool. Why?


Kara Swisher (32:03 to 34:01)

Because it's not going to solve every problem through tech. But we face an existential crisis. I mean, we all pretend, we all yell and scream about everything, but planet's not going to give us a chance. It just isn't. You look at the statistics. If you're a science person in any way, I get that there's all these climate deniers, but they're just stupid. I'm sorry. They're just like, okay, sure, Earth isn't warming. These have implications. And I'm not saying it's going to wipe us out, but it's going to make it damn problematic for a lot of civilizations.


And so what can climate; I think I made a prediction many years ago that the world's first trillionaire will be a climate change technologist because we're going to need to find solutions that we're going to need to find. It is headed this way. It is happening. And so, whether it means living on another planet, whether it means doing something with the atmosphere, whether it means cooling, figuring out new and interesting ways to do that, making food in a different way. I just think the opportunities are massive and the need is going to be great. And so I would focus on that. I would utterly focus on that because we need a fossil-free future. We just do. If I wasn't working on that, I'd work on the yawning income inequality that's happening all across the globe.


One time, I think I have this in the book, I said to a rich person, I said, one of the tech people, I said, you're either going to have to fix income inequality or you're going to have to armor plate your Tesla. Either one. And for a second, I thought, oh, my God, you want to armor plate your tesla, don't you? I was like, ugh. And then, of course, we get the cyber truck, which does rust. Apparently, it turns orange in some ways. But I just feel like these are societal problems that we're going to have to face, and that worries me. And I think if you can do anything about that, you'll do a lot for the human race.


Gene Marks (34:01 to 34:21)

Listen, where there are problems, there are opportunities. So, I get it. And I think. I always think that opportunities for people. Kara swisher is an American journalist, well-known journalist, podcast host as well, and now the author of "Burn Book: A Tech Love Story", which is excellent. I enjoyed it very much. Buy the book, see her on tour. I think, Kara, you're going all around the country, different places.


Kara Swisher (34:21 to 34:24)

I am. It's sold out. I'm sorry to tell everybody. It's pretty much sold out.


Gene Marks (34:24 to 34:27)

Good for you. Hopefully, I'll see you when you're in Philly, if you need any restaurants.


Kara Swisher (34:27 to 34:30)

It might not be sold out, but it's close. I think it's pretty close. All right.


Gene Marks (34:30 to 34:33)

You earned it, and you deserve it. Thank you very much.


Kara Swisher (34:33 to 34:35)

Born in Philly, so sell out Philly.


Gene Marks (34:35 to 34:44)

Did not know that. Okay. Thanks for that information, everybody. You have been watching the Paychex THRIVE podcast. My name is Gene Marks, thanks very much for watching or listening. We'll see you again soon. Take care.


Gene Marks (34:44 to 35:21)

Take care. Do you have a topic or a guest that you would like to hear on THRIVE? Please let us know. Visit and send us your ideas or matters of interest. Also, if your business is looking to simplify your HR, payroll, benefits, or insurance services, see how Paychex can help. Visit the resource hub at That's W-O-R-X.


Paychex can help manage those complexities while you focus on all the ways you want your business to thrive. I'm your host, Gene marks, and thanks for joining us. Till next time, take care.


Announcer (35:23 to 35:28)

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