Bulletins

Twitter keeps poaching the most diverse top talent

The company's two-year hiring spree is creating a technical dream team of the most inclusion- and ethics-minded leaders in the industry.

Twitter keeps poaching the most diverse top talent

Rumman Chowdhury, the head of Twitter's META team, is just one of several well-respected, ethics-minded female leaders to have been hired for major roles at Twitter in the last year.

Twitter just poached Bumble's head of product design, a woman widely respected in her field for building with inclusion and accessibility. Lara Mendonça will lead Twitter's work using design to encourage meaningful conversation.


Mendonça, whose title will be senior manager of product design, is just the latest in a string of widely-respected, increasingly diverse, and ethics- and inclusion-minded hires over the last two years at Twitter: We broke down a quick list of some of the notable names (though this is by no means exhaustive).

  • Mendonça made a name for herself at Bumble with her vulnerability theory of design, which she told the Wall Street Journal was born out of her own experiences as a bisexual woman with ADHD from Brazil.
  • Rumman Chowdhury: Twitter's new head of its ML Ethics, Transparency and Accountability team (called META internally), Chowdhury was hired in February, just months after launching her own AI-ethics focused group called Parity AI. Chowdhury is one of the most widely-respected leaders in the AI ethics field, and news of her hire at Twitter drew widespread industry praise.
  • Jutta Williams: Hired nine months ago as the product lead for the META team, Williams left her job as senior technical lead for central privacy at Facebook after only a year. She helped lead Google's AI health research before her time at Facebook.
  • Rinki Sethi: The new CISO at Twitter filled the long-open role in September 2020; she was previously the CISO and VP at Rubrik and VP for information security at IBM.
  • Nikkia Reveillac: Twitter's head of research was promoted from interim to full-time director in June 2020, after less than a year on the company research team; she previously worked at Colgate for more than 13 years, spending her last few leading its research insights team.
  • Maya Gold Patterson: The young woman in charge of designing Twitter's audio-chat Spaces product made a name for herself writing about the challenges and frustrations of being a Black woman in tech.
  • Christine Su: The former "activist-entrepreneur" working on farming and climate change tech became the head of product for conversational safety in early 2020. In that role, she's focused on increasing user choice and control over the Twitter experience.

Kayvon Beykpour, Twitter's head of consumer product, and Dantley Davis, Twitter's chief design officer, both joined the company earlier (2018 and 2019, respectively), but they often profess the same philosophies as many of these newer hires. Twitter has spent the last two years emphasizing conversational health and user safety in its product announcements, and it appears the company is building out its team to reflect those commitments internally.

Protocol | Fintech

Meet the startup helping the US Marshals figure out crypto

Anchorage's Diogo Mónica said institutions are turning to the crypto bank for different needs, from buying CryptoPunk art to storing digital assets seized from criminals.

More and more organizations are finding a need to navigate crypto, a boon for startups like Anchorage.

Image: Larva Labs; Christopher T. Fong/Protocol

Diogo Mónica, co-founder of Anchorage Digital, said the idea for the crypto startup sprang from an unusual request about four years ago.

An institutional investor had lost the passphrase to a $1.5 million bitcoin account and offered him 20% of the amount if he could break into it and help recover the assets.

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Benjamin Pimentel

Benjamin Pimentel ( @benpimentel) covers fintech from San Francisco. He has reported on many of the biggest tech stories over the past 20 years for the San Francisco Chronicle, Dow Jones MarketWatch and Business Insider, from the dot-com crash, the rise of cloud computing, social networking and AI to the impact of the Great Recession and the COVID crisis on Silicon Valley and beyond. He can be reached at bpimentel@protocol.com or via Signal at (510)731-8429.


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Protocol | Workplace

The problem with Amazon’s ‘free college’ benefit

The new "free college" benefit is not so free, and probably not that useful for most workers, according to education experts.

Education experts told Protocol that programs like Amazon's Career Choice benefit have limited value in helping people actually earn degrees they can use.

Photo: Soeren Stache/picture alliance via Getty Images

Last week, splashy headlines about a new and expanded "free college" benefit for all of Amazon's blue-collar workers made the country's second-largest private employer look like it had fixed the problems with higher education in one fell swoop. Two months ago, the same headlines had about the same energy for Walmart, the only company that employs more people in the United States than Amazon.

Walmart and Amazon are the largest employers to embrace the trend in expanding tuition-reimbursement and education benefit programs (Amazon calls it the Career Choice program) in the mad dash to attract labor in an increasingly tight market. But while these benefits might make companies more appealing to applicants, the reality of the programs is far more complicated. Education experts told Protocol that the programs have limited value in helping people actually earn degrees they can use.

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Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email: akramer@protocol.com), where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

Protocol | Fintech

Why it still takes 3 days to send a bank transfer

Electronic payments in the U.S. are hobbled by the ACH system, which is only slowly being updated. A startup says it can make bank-to-bank transfer better, faster and cheaper.

Gil Akos, co-founder and CEO of Astra, hopes to make bank-to-bank money trasnfers a lot faster.

Photo: Astra

Fintech startups need to move money quickly and safely in order to make consumer-friendly features like rent-splitting or shared savings work.

But to do that, they need help navigating the world of ACH bank transfers, which can be slow and complex.

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Tomio Geron

Tomio Geron ( @tomiogeron) is a San Francisco-based reporter covering fintech. He was previously a reporter and editor at The Wall Street Journal, covering venture capital and startups. Before that, he worked as a staff writer at Forbes, covering social media and venture capital, and also edited the Midas List of top tech investors. He has also worked at newspapers covering crime, courts, health and other topics. He can be reached at tgeron@protocol.com or tgeron@protonmail.com.

Protocol | Policy

Why Washington can’t fix Facebook

Reporting on Facebook's misdeeds from The Wall Street Journal has academics and regulators alike clinging to solutions that are both elusive and insufficient.

In 2019, Mark Zuckerberg championed the future of privacy at Facebook's F8 conference.

Photo: Amy Osborne/Getty Images

The wheels of Washington's rapid response machine have been turning on overdrive for the past week as lawmakers and the tech criticism industrial complex have rushed to react to an endless stream of damning reports coming out of The Wall Street Journal's Facebook Files project.

Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Marsha Blackburn announced a new "probe" into Facebook's "negative impact on teens" after the Journal reported that the company knew Instagram was warping teen girls' self-images. Common Sense Media called for Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress — yet again — and wider condemnation poured in from the company's detractors.

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Ben Brody

Ben Brody (@ BenBrodyDC) is a senior reporter at Protocol focusing on how Congress, courts and agencies affect the online world we live in. He formerly covered tech policy and lobbying (including antitrust, Section 230 and privacy) at Bloomberg News, where he previously reported on the influence industry, government ethics and the 2016 presidential election. Before that, Ben covered business news at CNNMoney and AdAge, and all manner of stories in and around New York. He still loves appearing on the New York news radio he grew up with.

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