Institute for Business in the Global Context

Where the World of Business Meets the World

Tag: Facebook

Trust in digital technology will be the internet’s next frontier, for 2018 and beyond

After decades of unbridled enthusiasm – bordering on addiction – about all things digital, the public may be losing trust in technology. Online information isn’t reliable, whether it appears in the form of news, search results or user reviews. Social media, in particular, is vulnerable to manipulation by hackers or foreign powers. Personal data isn’t necessarily private. And people are increasingly worried about automation and artificial intelligence taking humans’ jobs.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in the San Francisco Chronicle

The Digital Demands of the Displaced: Don’t track me, don’t expose me, don’t cut me off

by Kim Wilson, CEME Senior Fellow & Lecturer, The Fletcher School

Predictably, the long tentacles of financial inclusion have coiled themselves around the most vulnerable targets of humanitarian aid: low income refugees, migrants and displaced populations (hereon: “refugees”).

Just as predictably, the financial inclusion agenda is driven by suppliers (aid providers, donors, financial intermediaries and governments). Few refugees are demanding to be included in a digital/formal ecosystem. That does not mean they don’t appreciate the shelter, food and cash that humanitarian agencies have mustered on their behalf. They do. They also appreciate the efforts of those same agencies to make cash assistance easier. E-cash that can be transformed into physical cash at convenient times and places is an example. Use of debit cards at ATMs to withdraw cash from digital accounts can cut valuable time otherwise spent waiting in long cash distribution queues. Very appreciated, indeed.

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What the Next Silicon Valley CEO Traveling to India Must Read to Avoid a Dusty Downfall

In case you had any doubts that the Valley sees India as its next Valhalla, witness the parade of tech titans coming through. Apple’s Tim Cook was only the latest, following in the footsteps of Messrs Bezos, Ma and Zuckerberg, among so many others, along with the homegrown lads, Nadella and Pichai. India is a market like no other; here lies seemingly endless opportunity.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in The Indian Express

10 Questions To Ask Before Trusting The Nabobs Of The Net: Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, Uber

The Internet was meant to be a force for democratization, its power drawn from the bottom-up, peers working with each other without mediators. Recall that its origins were in ARPANET, originally funded by DARPA, as a decentralized and distributed collection of networks, without omnipotent hubs that might be vulnerable to attack by foreign powers. Much of the entrepreneurship that has fueled the Internet was bootstrapped out of scrappy locations — dorm rooms, friendly couches, garages — far from the corridors of power.

Yet, the Internet, circa 2016, is far from a digital Woodstock; it is ruled by a handful of omnipotent hubs. While this outcome may seem ironic, in an industry prone to network effects and scale economies, a concentration of market power among a handful of players is entirely natural and should not come as a surprise. What is surprising is how much we trust them and the tradeoffs we make every time we use their products.

Read the full piece from Dean Chakravorti in Forbes

How Mark Zuckerberg Can Resolve The Inclusive Innovator’s Dilemma

More generally, innovation in doing well while doing good is a growing trend among businesses seeking new markets in the developing world. Our research and conference initiative on this issue, conducted in collaboration with the Citi Foundation, confirms a growing preference for pursuing such dual objectives over pure philanthropy. For example, when we spoke with Sunny Verghese, founder and CEO of Olam, the agri-business company, he mentioned how pure corporate charity was not popular with shareholders. “But when you tell your shareholders that you are engaging in a variety of developmental initiatives which have some reciprocal value for the company, there are no questions asked,” he says.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in Forbes

PayPal, Facebook, Apple, and More: 12 Days at Fletcher

March and April are always a busy time at Fletcher. Mid-terms give way to the semester’s final crescendo, warm spring  weather lifts everyone’s spirits, and, of course, calendars fill with scores of exciting events across campus. This year, the two weeks from March 28th through April 8th brought a seemingly non-stop flow of fascinating speakers and prestigious celebrations, from the IBGC Speaker Series to Tufts University-wide events. Many focused on technology and entrepreneurship, but others brought high-profile visitors to discuss a wealth of other issues.

Learn more about these exciting two weeks at Fletcher:

Legal Seafoods CEO Roger Berkowitz

Monday, March 28: Legal Seafoods CEO Roger Berkowitz spoke about the sustainability and the global supply chain as part of the IBGC Speaker Series. He punctuated his perspective on the fish business by noting, “”At the end of the day, if we’re not conservationists, we’re not going to be in business!” Later that same day, Dan Schulman, President & CEO of PayPal, spoke alongside Hewlett Foundation cyber-security expert Eli Sugerman in a discussion entitled, “21st Century Cybersecurity: Challenges and Opportunities.” Read more about the event here

Tuesday, March 29: Tuesday took a deeper dive into the world of financial technology, as CEME Senior Fellow Arthur Sculley hosted an intimated lunchtime round table discussion on “The Future of FinTech 2.0.”

Wednesday, March 30: The Murrow Center, Hitachi Center, and Cyber Working Group came together to welcome Andrea Glorioso, Counselor for the Digital Economy  from the Delegation of the European Union to the US, for a talk on future prospects for markets and transatlantic relations in a digital context.

Thursday, March 31: The second IBGC Speaker Series event of the week brought the Director of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (better known as DARPA), Dr. Arati Prabhakar to campus for a luncheon lecture to discuss “Technologies to Bend the Arc of the Future.” You can read a write-up of the event here

Monday, April 4: The following week showed no let up in great evemts around Tufts University as Jeff Rothschild, former VP at Facebook, came to campus to discuss his observations on entrepreneurship and technology in his talk titled, “From Punched Cards to Social Media.”

Wednesday, April 6: Presented by the Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, Fouad Siniora, former Prime Minister of Lebanon, gave a talk on the risks and opportunities presented by “The Emerging Middle East.”

DARPA Director Dr. Arati Prabhakar

DARPA Director Dr. Arati Prabhakar

Thursday, April, 7: Day 2 of the Tufts Entrepreneurial Showcase featured the finalists for the Tufts $100K New Ventures Competition, with two Fletcher-led teams — Blue Water Metrics and Uliza — placing in the Top 3.

Friday, April 8: The busy and exciting 12 days at Fletcher came to a close, wrapping up the week with yet another IBGC Speaker Series event. “The Future of Innovation” was the topic, as former Apple and Pepsi CEO John Sculley spoke to a packed house over lunch, full of inspiration and insight. There was plenty to dig into about the future of technology, but to him, innovation boils down to one thing: “It’s all about having insatiable curiosity.”

These events are just a small sampling of the wonderful happenings at Fletcher ever semester. Be sure to check out the Fletcher Calendar, IBGC Speaker Series, and Fletcher Features, as well as right here on this blog.

Lessons from Facebook’s Fumble in India

The factors that define the “context[ual intelligence]” are different across the developing world, but, more significantly, they are different from the environments in which digital innovations are developed – whether it is in Silicon Valley or in Boston or in tech enclaves in India and China. In these high-tech pockets, context is almost invisible: institutions function, data is the coin of the realm and a digital application’s “killer” value proposition rules the day. In this way, tech companies operate from a distance; they are not usually embedded within the local environments.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in Harvard Business Review

Why Twitter’s best days may be behind it

Twitter is in a state of crisis. The stock has tanked since co-founder Jack Dorsey returned as chief executive. Four of 10 top executives just left. With takeover rumors swirling Dorsey must think outside the box and reinvent the one-time darling of social media.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in the Washington Post

A like for Mark Zuckerberg

Zuckerberg’s mission is, however, bigger than that of a CEO paying a courtesy call to his largest customer base. India is also home to a chunk of the 4.5 billion people who cannot be his customers because they have no internet access. He was here to also sell Facebook’s year-old project,, or Free Basics, that promises the digitally excluded internet access that is both free and basic. The service has already reached a billion people in 19 countries.

But he is being pilloried for his efforts. […]  All this is getting more yikes than “likes”.

Read the full op-ed from Dean Chakravorti in The Indian Express

“Digital Fairness vs. Facebook’s Dream of World Domination” by Bhaskar Chakravorti and Ravi Shankar Chaturvedi

We believe there’s an even more fundamental issue at play here: What does a digitally “fair” world entail? Is it better for a society to be more digitally inclusive, even with the help of corporations (while also pursuing their business interests), or should a guarantee of absolute principles of net neutrality come first – regardless of whether it deters such private initiative?

Read the full op-ed from in Harvard Business Review