Dec. 21, 2020

My Podcast Blog 2

December 17, 2020

Social Influencers and Social Influencing

The modern concept of Social Influence was formulated in 1958 and three primary processes of influence were delineated, Compliance, Identification and Internalization.  

Compliance occurs when individuals accept influence and adopt the induced behavior to gain rewards or approval and avoid disapproval. Identification happens when one adopts the induced behavior to create or maintain a desired relationship. Finally, Internalization occurs when people accept that  the influence is rewarding  and indicates the opinions and actions of others. 

That's a brief summary of the multi billion dollar social influencing business of Social Media which depends on advertising for its' revenues. So when the Kardashian family uses a ceratin brand of cosmetics, paper towels or and other product,  their endorsement is influencing the buying behavior of millions of American consumers. 

2020's top 8 influencers on Instagram are Cristiano Ronaldo, Selena Gomez, Kylie Jenner, Leo Messi, Kendall Jenner, Beyonce, Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande.  They endorse and promote a host of products and services which generate millions of dollars in advertising  revenue for them. And now you can add to their ranks, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, recently re-located  to Santa Barbara.

They announced earlier this week that they had signed a $30 million contract with Spotify to produce a podcast show which will feature interviews with "Interesting People" from across the globe.  Now, neither of them has led a life of accomplishment but they have a Global Brand because of the accident of Harry's birth into the British Royal Family. And Meghan Markle has opportunistically hitched her wagon to Harry's global fame. She realized early on in their relationship, that there was  branding Gold in them thar hills. She engineered for herself and Harry an exit from the dreary duties of ribbon cutting ceremonies as members of the British Royal Family.  As a result,  she has been able to return to the entertainment industry with a new global brand.

And millions of podcast listeners around the world will be drawn to listen to their Spotify podcasts because they are famous household names and social influencers who can hawk products and services. A $150 million muti year contract with Netflix was signed earlier this year for the two of them to produce films, documentaries and children's programs. 

Their first Spotify offering will be a holiday special hosted by both of them, featuring stories of hope and compassion from inspirational guests. Spotify has been busy bbuilding out the high end of its' podcast franchise. They have entered a contract with former President Obama and Michelle Obama to produce and host podcast content  for a multiyear period.  Kim Kardashian is also debuting a Spotify podcast on criminal justice reform in 2021. The biggest podcaster,  Joe Rogan,  has already moved his daily podcast the Joe Rogan Experience to Spotify, relocated his studio and production operations to Texas and pocketed $100 million for his efforts.

So Spotify's new podcast contracts with global celebrities are kicking up the art form a couple of notches and burnishing the concept of social influencer to include a former President and a member of the British Royal Family.  It's a new and more prestigious group of content creators and high end influencers,  far removed from pop stars and soccer players.

Spotify has a global reach of 144 million premium subscribers and 320 million monthly active users.


December 18, 2020

My recent podcast, Season 6  Episode 2 profiled San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin. While campaigning for DA in 2019 he promised to make the City's police force more accountable to the voters, and to combat police brutality.  He has certainly accomplished that goal and currently is prosecuting three current and former SFPD officers on charges ranging from manslaughter, assault and felony assault. 

Such cases are historic in San Francisco. But it remains to be seen whether a jury will convict the charged officers in these instances. Those and other police prosecutions may have been strengthened by the passage of a new law in California that reforms the 1872 legislation that permits the police to use force. Originally the statute required that such use be "reasonable." But the standard has been toughened to now read "necessary" and therefore less subjective. 

But is this change in attitude towards the police by both legislators and increasingly DA's like Boudin shared by the public ? After all, the public tend to back the police when it comes to law and order issues. 

"Trust in law enforcement is at an all time low," according to Miriam Krinsky, a former federal prosecutor but who now heads up a reform group called Fair and Just Prosecution in Los Angeles. She believes the public will back up prosecutors who are coming down hard on cases of police brutality, as in the case of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In that case officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with second degree murder and three officers who helped subdue the suspect have been charged with aiding in the black man's killing.

Certainly the video footage of that incident and other filmed  instances of excessive use of force by officers, have and will play a big role in the court of public opinion.  Before the advent of ubiquitous video cameras, police officers were given the benefit of the doubt by members of the public. 

But charges against police officers are still quite rare.  Since 2005, 126 state and local law enforcement officers nationwide have been arrested on murder or manslaughter charges for an off duty death, and 44 have been convicted or pled guilty and only seven for murder. The arrest rate has ticked up, however, in the last 6 years to 76 arrests. There are over 800,000 law enforcemnet officers in the United States to put these numbers in perspective.

Also prosecutors and law enforcement have worked closely in the past to achieve convictions. But critics argue that the relationship is too cozy resulting in charges against police being rare. Boudin and his prededecessor George Gascon have asked the State Bar of California to prohibit police unions from making campaign contributions to Prosecutors and DA's. 

Recent Bay Area police prosecutions have resulted from Grand Juries handing down indictment.  But the standard in those cases is lower - was there evidence of criminal conduct. A higher standard of beyond a reasonable doubt is required for conviction.  But without a doubt, the tide of public opinion is turning. Civilian review boards of police conduct have been set up in numerous California cities. Further, the Defense Bar taking note of increased public oversight of police misconduct, is more apt to take a plea deal for their police clients than to go to trial, based on a higher likelihood of a guilty verdict from a jury.

The concepts of intrinsic bias and institutional racism in law enforcement have also changed the public perception of police violence especially against minorities.  So the reforms that DA Boudin is pushing through in San Francisco are consistent with a public trend toward greater public oversight of the police and less acceptance of bad behavior and violence. 

In closing, a word about the pronunciation of the District Atorney's surname. Boudin is a French surname and it is pronounced Boo - Dan in French. But our DA pronounces his last name Bow - Deen. So Bow - Deen it is in future !  

From time to time, I'll use my Blog to expand on issues in my podcasts that were not addressed in the original recording: Watch this space !

December 21, 2020

My December 10th podcast focussed on Facebook's new cryptocurrency the Diem. (Season 5, Episode 20.) Set to debut in early 2021, 1 Diem will be worth one US Dollar. A Facebook payment wallet called Novi will complement the new cryptocurrency. The Diem's governing body will be located in Switzerland.

But JP Morgan, the largest US bank has beat Facebook, launching its new cryptocurrency, JPMCoin, on November 4th. Like the Diem, one JPMCoin is worth 1 US Dollar.

JPM created a new business division, Onyx, for its blockchain projects. The JPMCoin was recently adopted for commercial use by a big technology client for the first time in late October. Never mind that US regulators are yet to decide how and who will regulate this new form of money. There are 8 US regulatory bodies which are vying for supremacy but for the time being, the SEC seems to be the regulator of the moment.

JPMCoin is now being used for round the clock global payments by a large technology client of the bank. JPM launched Onyx because the bank recognizes that the global financial system is shifting to a period of commercialization of those blockchain and fintech technologies. In other words, they are moving from the R&D phase to a real world store and exchange of value globally.

Crypto based currencies would do away with traditional nation based currencies and facilitate global commerce, trade and investment. Paypal has announced they will allow use of Bitcoin on their payment platform. The price of Bitcoin has soared of late. Tyler Winkelvoss, founder and CEO of cryptocurrency exchange Gemini has even said that the US dollar is no longer a store of value and has long recommended buying Bitcoin. 

Transfers and payments is an enormous financial services business. JP Morgan alone moves $6 Trillion a day. It is the first money center bank to announce it is using blockchain technology today and will scale it for its financial transactions business. Facebook's Diem will also be based on the US dollar with a one for one value. So it looks as though the JPMCoin may set the industry standard for the cryptocurrency to launch into day to day business transactions.

China has already launched a digital Yuan through the Bank of China. Not to be outdone, the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are looking at Central Bank Digital Currencies, CBDCs to provide another path to the digitization of currencies. 

For the man or woman in the street though,  how is the digitization of money going to affect our day to day lives. Well, look no further than Sweden which is on the road to becoming the first cashless society. And I don't mean plastic - credit card and debit cards. No. it's a wave of your smart phone or for some 6000 Swedes, the wave of your hand which has been microchipped to access the nation's electronic payment app, Swish. 

For global internet retailers like Amazon or Alibaba such cryptocurrency payments are a dream come true.

Most stores, restaurants and gas stations do not accept cash in Sweden and there are few ATM machines to dispense cash. The elderly, the poor and migrants argue they are being left out of the economy and the Central Bank has applied the brakes to develop policies to make cashless Sweden less exclusive.

To give you some idea how fast the cashless trend is moving, in 2018 only 13% of Swedes used cash for a recent purchase versus 70% of  Americans.  Sweden's most popular payment app is called Swish. 

So you can see why Facebook is eager to join the cryptocurrency band wagon with Central banks, money center banks and consumers moving swiftly to abandon cash. With 2 billion FB users, overnight the Diem, FB's cryptocurrency could become a significant store of value and medium of exchange when it launches in early 2021. Stay tuned.