Jeff Bezos Can’t Lose

Big technology companies have been recently coming under increased scrutiny from federal regulators. Several tech companies are reportedly under investigation, but this column is only about Amazon, which seems to be in regulatory crosshairs in part because President Trump doesn’t like Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who also owns one of Trump’s least-favorite newspapers, the Washington Post. Ironically, Trump’s goal of breaking-up Amazon would only make Jeff Bezos at least $35 billion richer.

It’s simple: Amazon is worth a lot more in pieces than it is as a single company.

Bezos is no fool, so he knows […]

Three Mile Island Lessons for COVID-19: FEMA and Me

Forty-one years ago this summer I was a young investigator working in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and Washington, DC for the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island, a big federal investigation chaired by Dartmouth Professor John Kemeny, who is best known as the father of the BASIC programming language. I learned a lot that summer and fall not only about nuclear accidents but about how governments and industries respond to crises. Some of those lessons apply to the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is also being poorly managed. This may surprise you (that 41-year-old lessons can still apply) but governments, especially, change at a glacial pace.

The two […]

My first two predictions for 2020 — IBM and Trump

For 20+ years I’ve been writing predictions every January and I guess I’m doing another set now. But this time will be different for several reasons. For one, January is almost over, so it will slough over into February. For another, I always start by going back to the year before and grading my previous year’s predictions. I’m the only guy in this business who does that. But this year I am going to bury the score a bit because I need to start with a prediction or two simply because both are immediate and really can’t wait.  So I’ll do the scoring on Monday, but today I have two 2020 predictions to […]

Looking back at Y2K from the Trump Era

Recently I came across an old column I wrote a decade ago on the 10th anniversary of Y2K. You can find it in my archive along with a thousand more, but I am also reproducing it, below. For those who have forgotten Y2K or are too young to remember it, the crisis was Climate Change for an earlier era. It was a very real global problem that turned out to be anticlimactic only because we as a society took heroic efforts to handle it. We should be so lucky today.

The column holds up fairly well, I think, and its major lessons are worth remembering. If anything, it’s even more relevant today because we are living in the Trump era of bombast […]

Triggering a Trump meltdown: What was the point of that anonymous Op-Ed piece, anyway?

Thirty-nine years ago this past summer, I was working in a dingy cubicle in a K Street office building in Washington, DC when the man with white belt and shoes walked by. I was working as an investigator for the President’s Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island and the man with white belt and shoes was a security consultant hired by the Commission to deal with a series of news leaks about our work. As a result, this consultant was overseeing the installation of an expensive video surveillance system, showing it off at that moment to the chief administrator for the Commission.

“Who do we think will try to […]