The journalist talks to Michael E. Hartmann about his new media platform, the state of coverage of and commentary about philanthropy, and the shift in American giving to Silicon Valley.
Teddy Schleifer is a founding partner of Puck, a new media platform for entrepreneurial journalists that is fully launching after Labor Day and will cover, by its own description, “power, money, and ego.” Schleifer also writes The Stratosphere, a private e-mail newsletter that will remain part of Puck. He previously has worked at both Vox’s Recode and CNN.
Schleifer was kind enough to speak with me last week. The almost 11-minute video below is the first of two parts of our discussion; the second is here. In the first part, we talk about Puck, the financing for which is subscription-based, the state of coverage of and commentary about philanthropy, and the shift in American giving to Silicon Valley.
Schleifer and Hartmann
While working at CNN, “I realized there was a whole world here of big money that wasn’t really covered or scrutinized that well,” Schleifer tells me. “There are reporters in D.C., who cover money in politics, but the nature and extent of giving by those in Silicon Valley “is not a saturated beat.”
While working at Recode, Schleifer “got to know all the players out here” and “started looking the story about these peoples’ soft power. There’s a lot of folks here in San Francisco and in tech media who write about what happens at the companies” or
the venture-capital world. I’ve done some of the venture-capital world reporting, but I was kind of interested in what happens after you make the money … When you make the money, how did your life change? What are your responsibilities to the world? How do you channel that money into making the world in your view of better place? What are the trade-offs if you try to do that? Who manages your money? How do you think about taxes? I try to come up with like a broad 360[-degree] view of what it’s like to be a billionaire 2021. That’s what I did at Recode before joining Puck.
Puck’s writers “are all interested in expressions of money and power and ego and influence in different power centers of American society,” according to Schleifer, which would include philanthropy and in Silicon Valley.
Some journalism about philanthropy “can feel kind of ponderous or almost too ‘inside baseball,’” he says, “but I think there’s a great story that about the ways in which philanthropy is affecting the world and how it affects people outside of the industry. I think that’s fascinating and I think there’s a lot of green field for people to cover this stuff.”
In the conversation’s second part, Schleifer talks about the different factors motivating Silicon Valley giving, scrutiny of and transparency in philanthropy in general, progressive and populist critiques of grantmakers in particular, and the prospects for future reform of nonprofitdom.