Thursday, September 25, 2014

You're kidding, right? Carlyle tracked its LPs at their annual meeting?

The huge global asset management firm The Carlyle Group, at its annual meeting, issued ID badges to its limited partners--its investors in other words, the people who make the business happen--so it could track their comings and goings at the meeting. These are not employees who imaginably signed away all their privacy rights when they agreed to work for the firm. As the story explains,
Carlyle Group has more than 1,650 investors from 78 countries, according to its website. And hundreds of those investors show up at Carlyle’s annual meeting, which according to one LP is something like the Burning Man festival of the private equity industry.
The LPs who learned about it -- there was apparently no advance notice given -- were furious. One guy thought about giving his badge to a woman LP for the night so whoever was sleuthing their movements would have some fun analyzing the data.

After the infamous email privacy scandal at Harvard a couple of years ago I should not be surprised by anything. How could anyone at Carlyle have thought this was a bright idea? I get it at one level -- some wizard realizes something is possible, nobody ever told him anything about not doing stuff like this, and he might learn something, so why not?

But it's bizarre. It demonstrates a shocking myopia about the big picture. What information did they hope to get that would be more important than the outrage and mistrust a disclosure would precipitate? If your LPs don't trust you in this business, you are cooked. Why would anyone trust Carlyle with anything now?

1 comment:

  1. The lack of awareness of how decisions around tech design are likely to affect actual humans is STILL a thing.

    Following on from your previous post (lots of agreement here), lack of meaningful engagement with 'the humanities' across science, and business, and technology curricula for much of the last few decades has led to - or contributed to - a poverty of consideration of the human being in design and in decision-making processes.

    Business and tech decision-making and design increasingly lack empathy for people. Focus on profit, and profitability, not only overlooks the person and the personal, it rides roughshod over the many opportunities to enhance people's lives, not merely inflate the personal wealth and individual power of (increasingly) entrenched (and distant) elites.

    And I observe this as an academic-in-training (and -in-waiting); my background is top heavy with CompSci/tech and Lawyer/business roles and perspectives. The more I reflect, and the more I engage, back with law-tech-business, the more I have shifted from a tech-legal instrumentalist perspective to a public-policy integrative one.