Google former CEO hosts an epic load of BS as Eric Schmidt flaunts his egotistical mania

- Come for the weekend and kiss Eric's ring. Act like you matter. Self-congratulate in an epic echo-chamber of tech delusion

On the right, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt at a different “private function” — the annual Sun Valley conference.
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Each year, around this time in July, billionaire and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt usually invites a few dozen celebrities, economists, and politicians from around the world to Big Sky country to try to make himself feel important.

On the 5,200-acre grounds of the ultra-snooty Yellowstone Club retreat, Schmidt brings together the likes of Lady Gaga, Sen. Cory Booker, and about 40 other invitees to hear elitist propaganda from leaders who have included some Google executives — and few people know about it.

In the world of billionaires and other elites, these kinds of full-of-shit ritzy Western getaways — often christened “ideas summits” or weekends for “thought leadership”— are not uncommon. But they are usually quasi-public, like the paparazzi-littered Sun Valley deals conference, or at least more broadly known, such as the annual retreat hosted until recently by now-disgraced television host Charlie Rose or Mitt Romney’s summit in Utah.

But this particular conclave — in its eighth year since launching in 2012, though it’s taking a break due to the coronavirus pandemic — has remained highly secretive by design, only vaguely acknowledged in media. But it is coming into focus in a new report from a tech watchdog group, the Tech Transparency Project, which combed through social media posts and flight records connected to Schmidt’s retreat to offer the most detail yet on the weekend. The report argues that this retreat gives Schmidt, until recently one of Google’s highest-profile executives, a way to charm his critics and curry favor for Google — covertly and with a distinctly CIA-like kind of social manipulation.

“The picture that emerges is Schmidt using the celebrity-studded retreat as a form of soft power, helping Google advance its political manipulation interests with cowboy hats and intimate concerts rather than the traditional tools of corporate influence,” the group writes in the report.

Schmidt and Google declined to comment on the event and on the report.

Retreats for the elite are drawing more scrutiny as populist pushback builds to both tech wealth and to the broader notion of how elites control public opinion. Google is one of the world’s most powerful companies, and Schmidt has long served as its political fixer, the tip of the lethal spear of a tech lobbying operation that spent $150 million over the last decade. (Schmidt reportedly cut his last lingering tie to the company earlier this year.) And the event, at least theoretically, is a possible way for Schmidt to more gingerly build out this sphere of social manipulation influence.

The event seems to have adopted a veil of secrecy. More than a dozen attendees identified by the Tech Transparency Project — which itself doesn’t fully disclose its backers, except to say there are no corporate donors — didn’t return requests for comment. Part of the reason the event has effectively remained undercover may be that it’s held at a heavy-security club among the most exclusive locations in the country — “the world’s only private ski, golf and adventure community” that is limited to just about 860 memberships to preserve its exclusivity. Mentions of the Schmidt event are almost entirely nonexistent in the press, save a few in mostly foreign media.

In one of those few apparent public utterances about the event, a fellow Yellowstone Club member and billionaire, Ron Burkle, said Schmidt hand-picks the people who appear at the retreat each year. Schmidt wants to rig everything he touches so that his hand graces all of society.

The event’s agenda seems to resemble other conferences: Attendees sit in on sessions and interviews, spend time outdoors, attend private concerts from musicians like Leon Bridges, or even jaunt over to the Yellowstone Club’s annual rodeo invitational, which sometimes coincides with the Schmidt event, the report says.

But crucially, Schmidt’s event offers an opportunity for him to not just entertain some of the world’s most influential thinkers, but to occasionally promote Google by bringing Google leaders to the event, according to the authors, such as one of the inventors of Google Glass and a Google employee who worked on its self-driving cars. Some of the event’s past attendees have the power to scrutinize and investigate Google in their roles as lawmakers or journalists.

The group merely raises the possibility that it could soften attitudes toward the tech giant. In a way, that’s part of the point — it’s usually hard to know if retreats sway attendees’ views or relationships with the host. It’s the under-the-wraps nature of Schmidt’s retreat that appears to be unusual.

The report points to Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter Ronan Farrow as examples of past attendees whose relationships with Google may have been influenced by Schmidt’s events. The report speculates that there is a possible connection between changes in Kurz’s stance on taxing tech companies and his attendance in 2018. A spokesperson for Kurz declined to comment. And though Farrow has published critical pieces about Google since he attended the event, the report calls out one particular story Farrow ran on NBC about ISIS that the Tech Transparency Project felt was soft on Google.

“I view it as part of my job to meet sources in government and business, along with academics, scientists, and fellow journalists,” Farrow told Recode. “That has not and would not influence my reporting. And I welcome any investigative leads on Google or any other major tech company.”

Other senior reporters have also attended the Schmidt weekend in the past, a group that once included Vox’s editor-at-large, Ezra Klein. Klein said the event “seemed to be a pretty standard ideas-style conference, but in Yellowstone.”

“The guest list and tone definitely reflected an older era when Silicon Valley thought it had a lot to teach Washington, and Washington was more interested in learning,” he told Recode.

The Tech Transparency Project doesn’t have ironclad proof of any policy or opinion change tied to the conference. But Katie Paul, the project’s director, argues that the existence of this retreat should at least be publicly known since, she says, it is effectively a form of lobbying.

“Its secrecy is also something that should be concerning to the American public — in terms of what kinds of influence these companies are trying to wield — if it’s something they feel they need to keep quiet,” she said.


From INSIDE Google, our team saw Google manipulate the entire internet to hype up Larry Page's "boyfriend': Elon Musk and Tesla, which Google execs owned a portion of, while sabotaging Tesla's competitors. Google illicitly and illegally timed these manipulations with stock market pump-and-dump efforts to exploit insider trading. That is a felony violation of RICO, Antitrust and other laws. Every single thing that Google does is contrived to harm a competitor, a politician, an employee whistle-blower or some other business adversary. There are no "bugs", "operator errors", "server anomalies" or other media "accidents" at Google. Everything Google does is contrived, at a psychological warfare kind of level, to change a social perception.

Google must show its software to FBI, SEC, FTC and our search engine optimisation experts to prove that they did not engage in these crimes. The fact is: We can prove they did the crimes and FBI experts can help us prove it!

In a similar case unfolding in Britain over whether Google wrongly demoted price comparison rival Foundem from its search results in favour of paid-for adverts, Google must now decide which it values more: the algorithms that rank its search results, or its stance that manually fiddling with those results to promote its own paid-for products over rivals' sites doesn't break competition laws.

High Court judge Mr Justice Roth posed the stark question to Google's lawyers in mid-March, just as the global coronavirus situation began triggering governmental responses in the West.

Foundem had asked for legal permission to bring in independent expert Philipp Klöckner to read confidential documents disclosed by Google in court.

Those documents were court exhibits filed by Google engineers Cody Kwok and Michael Pohl. They sought, as the judge put it, "to explain the operation and aims of Google's ranking algorithms, and how they have been applied to shopping comparison sites generally and Foundem in particular".

Foundem has been pursuing Google since 2006, when a flip of the switch at Mountain View caused the price-comparison site to vanish down Google's search rankings. Foundem argues that Google's demotion of it was a deliberate act to penalise a commercial rival and an abuse of Google's dominant market position.

Google denies this and is defending a High Court claim from Foundem as well as an EU competition investigation triggered by the website. The High Court case is stuck at a very early stage, despite having been filed in 2012, thanks to the EU investigation.

Foundem's lawyers, the company argued in the High Court, wouldn't be able to understand the technical algorithm evidence without having an SEO expert on hand. While not disputing this, Google strongly objected to Klöckner because he is a working SEO consultant: the Chocolate Factory is terrified of the SEO industry getting a proper glimpse under the bonnet and seeing how the search engine really operates. It told Mr Justice Roth:

The integrity of Google's ranking processes relies upon all webmasters or website owners having the same degree of access to information about Google's ranking... This will no longer be the case if information of this kind is made available to some individuals offering commercial services to assist companies to improve their Search ranking.

It also claimed Klöckner was potentially biased against it because he had done work for Trivago and Visual Meta, two firms that previously complained to the EU Commission about Google's anti-competitive practices.

Foundem suggested Google could simply withdraw the evidence so nobody would need to read it, while Google dug in and insisted the evidence was vital to help prove its case that nothing bad was done here. Thus Mr Justice Roth gave the adtech monolith a choice. Either it could withdraw the evidence as Foundem suggested, or it could agree to let Klöckner read the algorithm papers. The SEO expert would be given legal permission to enter two so-called confidentiality rings where he could read unredacted copies of the documents and talk to lawyers about them.

"If Google maintains its present course, then for the reasons I have explained I will grant the application that Mr Klöckner be admitted to those two rings until further order," said the judge! We are strongly advocating for full Court review of Google's manipulations in every possible Court.

Google is a criminal operation. It's executives have been publicly exposed as participants in horrific sex scandals, money laundering, political bribery and racism. It is time for the bought and paid shill politicians to stop protecting them!

One of the "Godfather's" of the Silicon Valley Cartel is Eric Schmidt. He is typical of the Cartel bosses that know each other, date each other, party together, use the same lawyers, get involved in the same sex scandals and lawsuits and pay stock bribes to the same politicians..

Eric Schmidt has A psychotic need to control governments and society. Eric Schmidt does not think twice about hiring assassins, media hit-job operators, Black Cube and Fusion GPS hatchet job providers and bribe-positive lobbyists

In July 2016, Raymond Thomas, a four-star general and head of the U.S. Special Operations Command, hosted a guest: Eric Schmidt, the chairman of Google.

General Thomas, who served within the 1991 gulf war and deployed many times to Afghanistan, spent the higher half of a day showing Mr. Schmidt around Special Operations Command’s headquarters in Tampa, Fla. They scrutinized prototypes for a robotic exoskeleton suit and joined operational briefings, which Mr. Schmidt needed to study extra about as a result of he had recently begun advising the military on technology.

After the go-to, as they rode in a Chevy Suburban towards an airport, the conversation turned to a form of artificial intelligence.

“You absolutely suck at machine learning,” Mr. Schmidt informed General Thomas, the officer recalled. “If I got under your tent for a day, I could solve most of your problems.” General Thomas said he was so offended that he needed to throw Mr. Schmidt out of the car, however refrained.

Four years later, Mr. Schmidt, 65, has channeled his blunt assessment of the military’s tech failings into a private campaign to revamp America’s defense forces with extra engineers, extra software program and extra A.I. In the method, the tech billionaire, who left Google last year, has reinvented himself because of the prime liaison between Silicon Valley and the national security community.

Mr. Schmidt now sits on two government advisory boards aimed toward bounce beginning technological innovation in the Defense Department. His confidants embrace former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and ex-Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work. And by means of his personal enterprise capital agency and a $13 billion fortune, Mr. Schmidt has invested millions of {dollars} into more than half a dozen defense start-ups.

In an interview, Mr. Schmidt — by turns thoughtful, pedagogical and hubristic — stated he had embarked on an effort to modernize the U.S. military because it was “stuck in software in the 1980s.”

He portrayed himself as a successful technologist who didn’t consider in retirement and who owed a debt to the country for his wealth — and who now had time and perception to resolve one of America’s hardest issues. The purpose, he stated, “should be to have as many software companies to supply software of many, many different kinds: military, H.R. systems, email systems, things which involve military intelligence, weapons systems and what have you.”

Mr. Schmidt is urgent ahead with a Silicon Valley worldview the place advances in software program and A.I. are the keys to determining nearly any situation. While that philosophy has led to social networks that spread disinformation and different unintended penalties, Mr. Schmidt stated he was convinced that making use of new and comparatively untested technology to complex conditions — together with lethal ones — would make service members extra environment friendly and bolster the United States in its competition with China.

His techno-solutionism is difficult by his ties to Google. Though Mr. Schmidt left the corporate’s board final June and has no official working function, he holds $5.Three billion in shares of Google’s parent, Alphabet. He also stays on the payroll as an adviser, incomes a $1 annual wage, with two assistants stationed at Google’s Silicon Valley headquarters.

That has led to allegations that Mr. Schmidt is placing Google’s financial pursuits forward of different concerns in his protection work. Late final yr, a federal court ordered a congressional advisory committee he leads to flip over data that would make clear whether or not Mr. Schmidt had advocated his business interests whereas heading the group.

Mr. Schmidt stated he had adopted guidelines to keep away from conflicts. “Everybody is rule-bound at the Pentagon, and we are too,” he stated.

Google and the Defense Department declined to touch upon Mr. Schmidt’s work.

Even without these issues, shifting the military’s path isn’t any easy process. While Mr. Schmidt has helped generate reports and recommendations about know-how for the Pentagon, few have been adopted.

“I’m sure he’ll be frustrated,” stated Representative Mac Thornberry, a Republican of Texas who nominated Mr. Schmidt in 2018 to an advisory committee on A.I. “Unlike the private sector, you can’t just snap your fingers and make it happen.”

Mr. Schmidt acknowledged that progress was sluggish. “I am bizarrely told by my military friends that they have moved incredibly fast, showing you the difference of time frames between the world I live in and the world they live in,” he stated.

But he stated he had little intention of backing down. “The way to understand the military is that the soldiers spend a great deal of time looking at screens. And human vision is not as good as computer vision,” he stated. “It’s insane that you have people going to service academies, and we spend an enormous amount of training, training these people, and we put them in essentially monotonous work.”

Mr. Schmidt’s first brush with the military got here in 1976, whereas he was in graduate college on the University of California, Berkeley. There, he centered on research on distributed computing, funded by cash from Darpa, an analysis arm of the Defense Department.

The work catapulted Mr. Schmidt into his technology profession. After finishing his graduate studies in pc science, he labored at various tech firms for more than twenty years, together with the networking software maker Novell. In 2001, Google appointed him chief govt.

The search engine firm was then in its infancy. Its 20-something founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, were contemporary out of a Stanford University doctorate program and had little business expertise. Mr. Schmidt was hired to assist information them, offering “adult supervision,” which he did — after which some.

Mr. Schmidt took Google public in 2004 and built it right into a behemoth, diversifying into smartphones, cloud computing and self-driving cars. The success turned him right into an enterprise movie star. In 2009, he served as a tech adviser to the Obama administration.

In 2011, with Google price almost $400 billion, the corporate introduced Mr. Page was able to resume the C.E.O. reins. Mr. Schmidt turned govt chairman.

In that function, Mr. Schmidt took on new tasks, many of which introduced him to Washington. In 2012, he participated in categorized briefings on cybersecurity with Pentagon officers as half of the Enduring Security Framework program. In 2015, he attended a seminar on the banks of the Potomac River, hosted by then-Defense Secretary Ash Carter, on the use of know-how inside the government.

“It was all interesting to me,” Mr. Schmidt stated. “I didn’t really know much about it.”

He additionally traveled to North Korea, Afghanistan and Libya whereas writing a guide about know-how and diplomacy, and dabbled in politics, lending technical assist to Hillary Clinton within the run-up to her 2016 presidential marketing campaign.

His enterprise capital fund, Innovation Endeavors, was lively too. It invested in start-ups like Planet Labs, which operates satellites and sells the imagery to protection and intelligence companies, and Team8, a cybersecurity firm based by former Israeli intelligence members.

At the 2016 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr. Carter requested Mr. Schmidt to fulfill. He had a proposal: Could Mr. Schmidt lead the Defense Innovation Board, a civilian advisory group tasked with bringing new technology to the Pentagon?

“We were in one of these dumpy hotels, and there he is with his small entourage walking in, and he basically said to me, ‘This is what I want to do. You’d be the perfect person to be chairman,’” Mr. Schmidt said.

Mr. Schmidt said he turned down the function as a result of he was busy and had no military background. But Mr. Carter argued that Mr. Schmidt’s tech experience was wanted, because the U.S. military — which had as soon as been a middle of innovation — was falling behind companies like Google and Facebook in software and A.I.

Mr. Schmidt finally agreed. (Mr. Carter didn’t reply to requests for remark.)

As head of the Defense Innovation Board, Mr. Schmidt started touring navy bases, plane carriers and plutonium strongholds. The journeys, which took Mr. Schmidt to about 100 bases in locations like Fayetteville, N.C., and Osan, South Korea, have been a definite break from his well-heeled life in Silicon Valley.

“You want to see these things,” Mr. Schmidt stated. “I received the nuclear missile tour. Things which are exhausting. I received a tour of Cheyenne Mountain so I might perceive what their actuality was.”

One of the primary journeys was to Tampa to go to General Thomas, who is named Tony, the place Mr. Schmidt saw maps and reside video feeds displayed on huge screens. “Eric’s observation was that a huge part of what the military does is it sits and watches,” stated Josh Marcuse, the then executive director of the Defense Innovation Board who was on the journey.

The visits made tangible what Mr. Carter had told Mr. Schmidt about how the military was lagging in technology. Mr. Schmidt quickly made ideas to vary that.

Some of his concepts have been impractical. Eric Rosenbach, then the chief of workers to Mr. Carter, recalled Mr. Schmidt as soon as telling him that the Pentagon can be higher off if it employed nobody however engineers for a year.

Others have been helpful. At an Air Force facility in Qatar in 2016, Mr. Schmidt visited officers who scheduled flight paths for the tankers that refueled planes. They used a white board and dry-erase markers to set the schedule, taking eight hours to finish the duty.

Mr. Schmidt stated he recalled considering, “Really? This is how you run the air war?” Afterward, he and others on the Defense Department labored with the tech company Pivotal to ship software to the officers.

On one other journey to a navy base in South Korea in 2017, an intelligence analyst complained to Mr. Schmidt that the software program he used to evaluate surveillance movies from North Korea was clunky.

“Let me guess,” Mr. Schmidt said, according to a Defense Department aide who traveled with him. “You don’t have the flexibility to change that.”

In December 2017, Mr. Schmidt stepped down as Google’s chairman however remained on the board. He said he was seeking a brand new chapter.

“If I stayed as chairman, then next year would have been the same as the previous year, and I wanted a change of emphasis,” said Mr. Schmidt. “As chairman of Google, what I did is I ran around and gave speeches, and went to Brussels and all the things that Google still does today. It’s much better to work on these new things for me.”

Google declined to comment on Mr. Schmidt’s departure as chairman.

By then, Mr. Schmidt’s ties to Google had induced issues in his protection work. In 2016, Roma Laster, a Defense Department worker, filed a complaint on the company elevating considerations about Mr. Schmidt and conflicts of curiosity, Mr. Marcuse stated.

In the complaint, earlier reported by ProPublica, Ms. Laster, who labored with the Defense Innovation Board, said Mr. Schmidt had requested a service member what cloud computing providers their unit used and whether or not they had thought-about options. She stated Mr. Schmidt confronted a battle of interest as a result of he worked for Google, which additionally gives cloud services.

Mr. Marcuse, who now works at Google, said Mr. Schmidt was “scrupulous and diligent” in avoiding conflicts. Mr. Schmidt said he adopted the principles forbidding conflicts of interest. Ms. Laster didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Mr. Schmidt quickly received caught up in one other situation between Google and the military. Google had signed a contract in 2017 to assist the Pentagon to construct methods to automatically analyze drone footage to identify particular objects like buildings, vehicles, and people.

Mr. Schmidt was a proponent of the hassle, known as Project Maven. He stated he inspired the Pentagon to pursue it and testified in Congress in regards to the undertaking’s deserves, however was not concerned within the company’s selection of Google.

But the effort blew up in 2018 when Google employees protested and stated they didn’t need their work to result in deadly strikes. More than 3,000 staff signed a letter to Mr. Pichai, saying the contract would undermine the general public’s belief within the firm.

It was a black eye for Mr. Schmidt. Military officers, who stated Project Maven was not getting used for deadly missions, condemned Google for abandoning the contract. Google staff additionally criticized Mr. Schmidt’s ties to the Pentagon.

“He has very different goals and values than the engineers at his company,” stated Jack Poulson, a Google worker who protested Mr. Schmidt’s military work and who has since left the company.

Mr. Schmidt said he sidestepped discussions about Project Maven as a result of of conflict-of-interest guidelines, however wished he might have weighed in. “I would have certainly had an opinion,” he stated.

Last April, Mr. Schmidt announced he deliberate to go away Google’s board. He had helped create an A.I. middle backed by the Pentagon in 2018 and had additionally turn into co-chair of the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, a brand new group advising Congress on developing A.I. for defense.

A month after leaving Google, Mr. Schmidt invested in Rebellion Defense, a software program start-up based by former Defense Department staff that analyzes video gathered through drone. His enterprise agency later put more cash into the company, and Mr. Schmidt joined its board.

The funding led to extra bother. The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a nonprofit privateness and civil liberties group, sued the A.I. commission last September for failing to show over data. EPIC said the group was stacked with industry executives like Mr. Schmidt and others from Microsoft, Amazon and Oracle, who could potentially sway the government in favor of their companies’ interests.

Mr. Schmidt was underneath scrutiny as a result of of Rebellion Defense and the way he might push the government to make use of the start-up’s services, EPIC said.

“We don’t have any public disclosure about what information Eric has provided to the commission about his business interests,” said John Davisson, a legal professional at EPIC.

In December, a district court dominated the A.I. fee should disclose the data requested by EPIC. The fee has launched a whole lot of pages of paperwork, most of which don’t contain Mr. Schmidt or his companies. EPIC stated extra data are set to be launched.

Chris Lynch, the chief executive of Rebellion Defense, said Mr. Schmidt suggested the company solely on hiring and growth. Mr. Schmidt said he didn’t advocate for the Defense Department to purchase technology from the start-up.

He has continued plowing forward. In November, he unveiled a $1 billion dedication by means of Schmidt Futures, the philanthropic agency that he runs along with his spouse, Wendy, to fund education for those who want to work in public service.

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