Technology Now The business and culture of our digital lives
Apple CEO Tim Cook is forging an unusual path as a social activist

Tim Cook runs the world's most valuable company. Now he's making his mark as an outspoken social activist.

The Apple chief executive, 54, penned a sharply worded opinion piece that ran Sunday in which he condemned a slew of "pro-discrimination" legislation pending in several states. The so-called religious objection bills would allow people to legally discriminate against others, such as by citing their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer.

The nearly 100 bills, he concluded, were bad for business and bad for human rights in general.

"These bills rationalize injustice," Cook said in the 550-word piece in the Washington Post. "They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality."

In a big departure from predecessor Steve Jobs and other Silicon Valley CEOs, Cook has increasingly been using his prominent position to shed light on social issues close to his heart. In guest...

Read more
Apple's Tim Cook denounces 'religious freedom' proposals

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook has denounced legislation being considered in more than two dozen states that he said would “enshrine discrimination in state law.”

Indiana’s governor signed legislation last week that allows businesses to cite religious belief as a reason for refusing service to gays and lesbians. That action has spurred a backlash against such laws from Apple, Salesforce and other major businesses.

Cook, who announced that he is gay in October, wrote in a Washington Post op-ed article published Sunday that Apple would never tolerate discrimination. He said he hopes his advocacy inspires more people to stand up against what he said was state-sponsored discrimination.

The Indiana legislation and measures like it "rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear,” he wrote, and “they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.”

Apple was among the companies that opposed similar legislation in Arizona early last year....

Read more
3 lingering questions after Ellen Pao's loss in Silicon Valley trial

A San Francisco County Superior Court jury has spoken in a case that riveted Silicon Valley, but that doesn't mean all's over.

In a verdict delivered Friday, a jury found that Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, one of the nation's most prominent venture capital firms, didn't discriminate against one its employees, Ellen Pao, and didn't fire her in retaliation for her protesting her treatment. The decision has left a number of uncertainties.

Will male-dominated Silicon Valley change its ways?

Not anytime soon, some fear.

“The outcome of the trial sends a message that women simply have to accommodate to such disappointing cultures,” said Bernice Ledbetter of the practitioner faculty of organizational theory and management at Pepperdine University.

But in the weeks leading up to the hearing of the case, some venture capitalists said the lawsuit put them on notice and that they were stepping up efforts to find ways to promote women. Only about 5% of decision-makers at venture-capital firms...

Read more
Ellen Pao tweets reaction to verdict, hopes to see change
An emotional verdict for jurors in Ellen Pao trial

She didn’t expect the trial to become a media circus. She’d never even heard of the plaintiff, Ellen Pao, or the defendant, venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, before the first day of the trial. But Marshalette Ramsey, known as “Juror 2” in the high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit, quickly learned.

The 41-year old transit manager from San Francisco spent the past five weeks with 11 other jurors hearing evidence in a case she didn’t yet realize was being followed by newspapers, websites and television stations around the world.

Pao had sued claiming gender discrimination and retaliation. After more than a month of testimony, the jury deliberated three days before voting in Kleiner Perkins’ favor on Friday.

Ramsey was one of only two jurors to vote in Pao’s favor on every claim she brought against the VC firm.

“I looked at how the men [at Kleiner Perkins] performed, and I wasn’t seeing differences huge enough to see it justify leaving Ellen Pao behind,” Ramsey...

Read more
Ellen Pao verdict: No gender bias or retaliation by Kleiner Perkins

SAN FRANCISCO — A civil jury on Friday returned a verdict in the high-profile Ellen Pao gender discrimination case, finding that powerful venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers did not discriminate against her because of her gender and did not retaliate when she protested her treatment.

The jury of six men and six women deliberated for three days after a five-week trial that captivated the tech world and highlighted many of the gender bias issues facing women in the heavily male industry.

The decision, closely followed around the world, disappointed those who have condemned Silicon Valley, and the tech industry in general, for its lack of workforce diversity.

“Men in VC firms are breathing a sigh of relief and women in tech are feeling defeated,” said Melinda Briana Epler, chief executive of Change Catalyst, a San Francisco organization that supports female entrepreneurs. “A lot of hearts clearly sank after hearing the verdict.”

Some, however, wonder whether too many hopes...

Read more