Friday, March 24, 2017

(The Big Disrupt) Uber: Are We Witnessing Uber's Downfall?

A lot has been happening with the rideshare giant, Uber, lately. Allegations of sexism and discrimination, lawsuits from Google, and a slew of other things. All of which are probably not helping Travis Kalanick’s self esteem. One has to wonder how far this will go. On the one hand, he recently stated that Uber’s finances are just fine according to rumor. But if you do a quick search for Uber profits 2016 you find page upon page of results reporting otherwise. Not a good sign.

As we finish out Q1 of 2017, we are seeing headlines like “Here’s everything that’s gone wrong at Uber in the last month” (CNBC) and “What Travis Kalanick Can Do Now to Dodge Another Messy Month at Uber” (Fortune). As industry changing and innovative as the company has been, it is clear that their product alone will not sustain the company unless drastic changes are made. It would seem Mr. Kalanick may be on the brink of finally answering the wake up call from the rest of the world.

“...the criticism we’ve received is a stark reminder that I must fundamentally change as a leader and grow up. This is the first time I’ve been willing to admit that I need leadership help and I intend to get it.” - Travis Kalanick (Fortune)

That’s great and all, but with the frequency he has been speaking out of both sides of his mouth in recent history, it’s dubious whether that help will actually be sought.

In Susan Fowler’s post about her experience with sexual harassment during her tenure at Uber (Susan J Fowler), she highlights that the two-faced nature of management goes deeper than just the top. She did all the right things in reporting the manager that was harassing her to HR (more than once) and even changed teams (again, more than once). HR defended the manager in question and essentially gave her an ultimatum presented as a ‘choice’. The story continues onward and just lays plain the issue at hand - Uber’s chain of command has some big problems. Companies with corrupt management may enjoy big successes, but eventually the company will either die from internal rot or external pressure.

Uber is seeing plenty of both.

In the last month some of their top staff have left. Most with titles like Director, Vice President, and, last but not least, President. At least seven high level people have left, which means that their departments are suffering from a lack of whatever leadership those people provided. Even if all of those players can be replaced within a reasonable amount of time through either internal promotions or external hires so much damage has already been done that it will be difficult to recover; if recovery is even possible.

Companies like Microsoft, Coca-Cola, and Intel have helped lead the charge regarding diversity in their workforces. Uber will have to learn and change very quickly if they are to have any chance of saving themselves.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

(TV) The Walking Dead: The Walking Dead 7x15 Trailer Season 7 Episode 15 Promo/Preview [HD]

(TV) The Walking Dead: The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 14 TV Review by @garrettweets

(Photo Credit: AMC)
The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 14
By Garrett Yoshitomi 

The Walking Dead enters the homestretch of its seventh season with this week’s episode, “The Other Side.” We’ve officially left behind the filler-filled fun of the past three weeks, as “The Other Side” focuses more closely on the group’s central conflict with Negan. We get to see the culmination of Rosita’s season-long quest to hitch a one-way ticket to Savior Town, as well as the current state of the Hilltop Colony, including another run-in between Simon and Gregory.

After several weeks of build-up, Rosita’s incredibly well-thought out plan to assassinate Negan, finally gets put to the test. Rosita’s been a pretty unpleasant character this season- angrily berating anyone who isn’t onboard with her mission to storm the Sanctuary and shoot Negan in the face. This “my way or the highway” attitude has quickly transformed her from a forgettable side character, into a rather unlikeable antihero. As stupid as her plan is, it’s really her selfishness that makes her storyline so hard to embrace. It’s difficult to believe that a character would willingly commit to such a flawed plan, knowing full well that when it fails, Negan will take his vengeance out on the innocent people of Alexandria.

(Photo Credit: AMC)

With all that said, I don’t particularly mind the way Rosita’s arc plays out this week. It probably helps that this is a pretty well-balanced episode, featuring an enjoyable B-plot with Maggie and Daryl. If this episode had been entirely dedicated to Rosita, the pacing would have undoubtedly dragged, especially around the character development parts. Now, the character development that we do get for Rosita, this week, is fine. It’s not particularly groundbreaking by any means, but it gets us invested enough in her storyline for the episode, and she’s been enough of an unknown for the past several seasons, that any insight into her background is more than welcome.

It’s kind of poetic that after all of Rosita’s verbal chest-puffing, it’s Sasha that ends up swooping in and stealing her long-awaited moment. Some fans might call it lazy writing, yet another example of one of The Walking Dead’s heavy-handed misdirects, but I think it kind of works, given the context of the episode. Rosita’s spent a good portion of her life (and this show) being taken for granted, but if there’s one thing she’s proved over the course of this season, it’s that the eclectic mix of skills she’s gleaned from her former flames, actually makes her one of the most valuable members of Rick’s group. Sasha understands this, and acts accordingly. It’s a quick gesture, a sacrifice that focuses less on bloodshed and bullets (as most Walking Dead sacrifices do), and more on the subtle character dynamic behind it. It’s pretty easily my favorite (and probably last) Sasha moment, though, it’s fair to say that it’s a little out of character for her.

(Photo Credit: AMC)
If this week’s Daryl and Maggie scene doesn’t stir something up deep down inside of you, then you’re probably not a fan of The Walking Dead. We’ve had very few shared scenes between characters reacting to Glenn’s death, and this moment between Daryl and Maggie beats them all. It’s short, but sweet, as Daryl is finally forced to face Maggie after indirectly causing Glenn’s death. Of course, Maggie holds no ill will towards Daryl, and the way she reassures him is everything that The Walking Dead should aim for, in terms of scenes like these. It’s a little disappointing because it shouldn’t be this hard for The Walking Dead to manufacture these types of character moments. There’s so much potential for great drama baked into this show, but it’s constantly wasted on the nth conversation about “doing what needs to be done to survive” between Rick and character X.

Rounding out the rest of this episode are some enjoyable appearances from several supporting characters, all of whom I hope we see more of in season eight and beyond. First and foremost, we get another encounter between the enigmatic Simon and the still slimy Gregory. Simon has popped up in a handful of episodes, though the only thing we really know about him is that he’s a high-ranking Savior with an ever-changing taste in alcohol. Still, he’s probably the Savior lieutenant I enjoy the most, especially when compared to the paint drying personalities of Daryl and Gavin. Enid displays her usual amount of precociousness, although it’s against a much more formidable opponent than we’re used to seeing her face. She’s certainly come a long way from the Enid who was basically willing to abandon Alexandria and take her chances on her own, and it looks like she’ll be settling into a permanent position by Maggie’s side, for the foreseeable future. Finally, Jesus continues to demonstrate that he’s right at home with our ever-growing ragtag group of survivors. He’s always been an easy character to like, but he’s also had a surprising lack of major storylines to work with. Hopefully this changes in future episodes.
(Photo Credit: AMC)

We’re just two weeks away from the season seven finale, an episode that Andrew Lincoln says will be one of the most exciting, yet. It does feel like we’re running out of time for some of these lingering storylines to come together, although based on the preview for next week, it looks like this season’s penultimate episode will see the return of the Oceanside community. It’s been made pretty clear that this year’s finale won’t end on a cliffhanger, which makes it even harder to believe that things will all come together in a satisfying way. I’m thinking we’ll see something similar to this year’s mid-season finale- a fairly standard episode, with multiple storylines all converging onto one, non-cliffhanger point that gives us a clean starting point for next season.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

(TV) The Walking Dead: The Walking Dead Super Trailer Season 7 Episode 14 Promo/Preview (HD)

(TV) The Walking Dead: The Walking Dead TV Review: ‘Bury Me Here’

(Photo Credit: AMC)
The Walking Dead
Season 7, Episode 13
By Garrett Yoshitomi

The filler keeps rolling with this week’s episode of The Walking Dead. “Bury Me Here” focuses on the Kingdom’s ever tenuous agreement with The Saviors, as well as Morgan’s path of nonviolence and Carol’s next arc. The show is gradually building up to an all-out war between The Saviors and a coalition between Alexandria, the Hilltop, the Kingdom, and the Scavengers, but so far, the going has been slow. Very slow. At this point in the season, it’s pretty typical for The Walking Dead to become bogged down by filler, but these past few episodes have been particularly arduous. And, it’s not that these episodes have been egregiously bad- for the most part, they've been fine. But, with Negan looming in plain sight, it’s easy to feel frustrated and sidetracked by the seeming lack of forward progress for this main plot. It’s been a month since Rick first approached King Ezekiel about joining forces against the Saviors, and three weeks since he struck a deal for guns, with Jadis and the Scavengers. This episode makes small progress towards the first of these two plot points, but there’s still a long way to go. And, with just three episodes left in the season, it’s fair to wonder if we’ll actually see a definitive conclusion to these storylines, or if history will repeat itself, and the writers leave us with yet another cliffhanger.

(Photo Credit: AMC)
I've been pretty critical of the way the writers have handled Morgan and his pledge of nonviolence. “To kill or not to kill” was a legitimately interesting conversation to have five seasons ago. But now? Not so much. After almost a hundred episodes of death and despair, it’s hard, as viewers, to accept that anybody, who’s survived the zombie apocalypse for this long, would so ardently cling to such a noble, yet flawed philosophy. And that’s ultimately what’s so hard to look past. It would be one thing if Morgan was painted as a generally peaceful person, who respects human life, but understands the necessity of killing someone as a way to defend himself, or others, from harm. Instead, the writers took Morgan hard in the opposite direction, making him unwilling to kill anyone, even those who wish him harm- like the Wolves from season six, who sought to murder as many Alexandrians, as possible. It’s frustrating for sure, but not as frustrating as the new leaf Morgan seems to have turned over this week. The reasoning behind Morgan’s sudden shift in attitude is sound- there’s a point A, which leads to a point B, which leads to a point C. But, the causality is weak, at best. The fact that Morgan changes his tune so quickly is rather insulting to fans who have had to put up with his irrational refusal to kill for one and a half seasons.

(Photo Credit: AMC)
Despite this season’s fair share of misses, I’ve been quite pleased with most of the supporting characters we’ve been introduced to, so far. In particular, Richard and Benjamin have both been solid additions to the show, serving as important pieces to the plot, as well as interesting characters, in their own right. Richard’s smoldering hatred towards the Saviors acts as a reflection of the audience’s similarly unbridled rage. His thirst for immediate action is also representative of a large portion of the fan base, who still seek vengeance for the events of the season premiere. Benjamin, on the other hand, stands out due to his kind and gentle nature- very reminiscent of an early season Glenn. Sure, there is a narrative purpose behind his naiveté, but it’s been genuinely fun to watch his earnest interactions with the hardened Carol, as well as the father-son relationship he inhabits with King Ezekiel.

With the Kingdom now in the mix, things should start to get interesting as we head into the final three episodes of the season. While “Bury Me Here” isn’t exactly the most exciting hour of The Walking Dead to ever grace our screens, it has some cool moments, and manages to steer clear of being outright bad. Sadly, that’s probably the most we can really hope for out of these awkwardly paced filler episodes- the proverbial middle seats to The Walking Dead’s business class. Luckily, there are some interesting storylines coalescing within the upcoming episodes. The preview for next Sunday teases the continuation of Rosita and Sasha’s plan, from two weeks ago, to personally take out Negan. And, it looks like we’ll also be catching up with Daryl, who’s currently hiding out at the Hilltop.

(Photo Credit: AMC)

The storyline I’m most looking forward to, though, is Carol’s. I was getting ready to write off Carol completely after it seemed like she was going to be kept on the outside looking in, for the rest of this season. But, it appears that Carol is back. And, after spending so much time on the bench, there’s no character I’m more invested in than our favorite Suzy Homemaker. I’m immensely disappointed that Carol finally finds out about Glenn in the way that she does this episode. I feel like it was never a storyline that should have involved Morgan, although, I understand- with where our characters are currently positioned- why it has to happen this way. It was still a tender moment, of course. And, I’d be lying if I said a few tears weren’t shed in my household. But, it pales in comparison to the scene we could have had between Daryl and Carol in “New Best Friends,” already one of the most emotionally charged scenes of the season, even without the Glenn reveal.


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